The Social Effects of Gambling


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is unknown, such as a game of chance or betting with others. The gambler hopes to win a prize, typically money. Several types of gambling exist, including sports betting, horse racing, bingo and lottery games. People can also bet on a variety of events, including political elections and natural disasters. Some forms of gambling are legal and can take place in public places, such as casinos and racetracks. Others are illegal and can occur in private settings, such as homes, restaurants or bars.

Some critics claim that economic development studies ignore the negative social effects of gambling and fail to incorporate them into their assessments of the net benefits of expanding gambling. According to one National Gambling Impact Study Commission report, this is largely due to the fact that social costs are difficult to measure and therefore tend to be discounted. However, researchers have developed ways to measure these impacts in terms of monetary value. For example, the cost of crime associated with pathological and problem gambling has been estimated at $1000 per person. Other studies have shown that the introduction of casinos has increased housing prices, as well as hotel rates. Moreover, they have also led to higher criminal prosecution rates and a decrease in the quality of life for local residents [179].

The monetary value of societal costs associated with gambling is known as the societal real wealth change, which is the difference between the cost of the harms and benefits of gambling, and can be measured using an economic cost-benefit analysis (CBA) model. This approach can be adapted to study gambling impacts at the personal, interpersonal, and community/society levels. The personal and interpersonal level impacts include changes in financial situations, labor impacts (changes in work productivity, absenteeism, loss of jobs), and health and well-being. The societal/community level includes external costs that aggregate societal real wealth, costs related to problem gambling, and long-term costs.

Often, gambling is used as an outlet for unpleasant feelings and boredom. It can also be a way to cope with underlying mood disorders, such as depression, stress, or substance abuse. Moreover, compulsive gambling can make the symptoms of these disorders worse. Nevertheless, there are healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Depending on the severity of the problem, the impact of gambling may extend to family members and other affected individuals. For example, the debt and financial strain resulting from problem gambling can cause serious problems in family relationships. Moreover, the risk of losing family members’ jobs and livelihoods can have devastating consequences. To help address these issues, family members can seek treatment for their loved ones who are addicted to gambling. In addition, they can set limits and boundaries regarding money management. Lastly, they can get support from other families who have dealt with this issue.