The Social Impact of Gambling


Gambling involves risking something of value (money, property or other assets) on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. It is a form of entertainment and can be enjoyable, but it also comes with a range of social costs that may affect gamblers and the people in their lives.

Gambling can lead to problems with money, relationships and work. It can also cause depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Many people start gambling as children, but it is possible to develop a problem at any age. Some people are more at risk than others. People who are prone to mood disorders, like depression and stress, are more likely to develop gambling problems. Those who have poor family support systems and have not been exposed to positive role models in their early life are also more vulnerable.

Despite the widespread availability of gambling opportunities, there is still a wide gap in understanding how gambling impacts society. While a substantial amount of research has been done on the economic benefits and costs associated with gambling, few studies have focused on the social impact of gambling, especially at the interpersonal level. In addition, most studies that have focused on the social impact of gambling have been quantitative, which often results in the omission of non-monetary harms.

To help identify the negative effects of gambling, researchers have used a conceptual model that structuralizes the impacts into two categories: costs and benefits. The costs are categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health and well-being. These impacts occur at the individual, interpersonal and community/society levels. While the costs are primarily related to the gambler, they can extend to other people in the gambler’s life.

The social costs of gambling can be analyzed using public health measures, such as quality of life weights or disability weights (DW). These measures are a means to quantify intangible and insidious harms, such as lost income, that are often overlooked in the economic literature. However, there are other social costs associated with gambling that can be measured using these same methods.

Several strategies can be employed to decrease the likelihood of gambling problems, including avoiding triggers. For example, if your usual route to and from work passes a casino, consider finding an alternative. Additionally, limit the amount of cash you carry on you when visiting a casino and leave your credit cards at home. Changing your thinking patterns is another effective strategy, challenging the negative and irrational beliefs that can lead to compulsive gambling. For instance, try to avoid alcohol while gambling, as it can lower your inhibitions and increase the chances of making risky bets. You can also practice the “aim for one” method, which involves betting just a small percentage of your remaining chips each time you win. This will allow you to play longer without losing more money than you would have otherwise. Additionally, tip your dealers regularly, either by handing them a chip and clearly saying this is for you or by placing your bets for them.