The Economic and Social Impacts of Gambling


Gambling is an activity in which people stake something valuable for the chance of winning a prize. It is common to see this activity in places like casinos, but it also takes place on the internet and at sporting events. There are both positive and negative effects associated with gambling, so it is important to understand how it works before taking part.

Many people gamble because they enjoy the excitement and the feeling of winning. This is known as hedonic pleasure, and it is an important component of happiness. It is a natural human behavior and it is caused by the release of chemicals in the body, such as adrenaline and endorphins. It can be addictive, however, and it is important to recognize the signs of problem gambling.

In the economic literature, studies have mainly focused on monetary costs and benefits associated with gambling. In addition, most of these studies have neglected to look at the social impacts. However, the use of health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights – known as disability weights – can help to discover the intangible social costs of gambling [32].

The personal level of gambling impacts are related to the gambler and affect their family, friends and work colleagues. They include invisible individual costs, such as mental and physical health problems, lost productivity and the effect on others. They also include a financial strain, affecting the bank balance and often leading to bankruptcy or homelessness.

Interpersonal harms are more serious and affect those close to the gambler. They include petty theft from significant others, illicit lending and gambling-related violence. In addition, pathological gambling has been found to be a risk factor for intimate partner violence and domestic abuse.

Society/community level external costs are mostly monetary and include general costs, costs of problem gambling and long-term cost/benefits. The latter refer to the impact of gambling on societal resources, which can be beneficial when directed towards the community.

The argument that gambling is good for the economy is often made by supporters, who claim that it increases the tax base and generates employment opportunities. In addition, they say that the revenue generated by gambling can be used for a variety of purposes, including public services, which are often underfunded in the absence of such income. They also argue that imposing restrictions on gambling would reduce the attractiveness of the region and deter tourists. However, research shows that these arguments are flawed and ignore the social and psychological consequences of gambling. Moreover, a large proportion of the profits generated by gambling are sucked up by the casino industry and do not benefit local communities. This is not surprising, considering that gambling is a form of addiction. If you are struggling with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek help immediately. The steps to recovery are well-established and there are many online self-help programmes available, such as StepChange’s free debt advice. The service is available to those with any type of debt, not just those with problem debt.