The Social Impacts of Gambling


Gambling is an activity in which a person wagers something of value (such as money or property) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and where the outcome can be neither predicted nor controlled. The term gambling is usually applied to casino games such as roulette, blackjack, and slot machines, but it can also include card games, keno, bingo, and other social activities such as betting on sports events or lottery draws.

The societal impacts of gambling are multifaceted and can be observed at the financial, labor, and health and well-being levels. Some of these effects are negative, while others are positive. Negative financial impacts can include increases in debt, bankruptcy, and homelessness, as well as decreased income and increased spending on alcohol and drugs. Labor impacts can involve job losses and gains, reduced productivity, absenteeism, and decreased work performance, while health and well-being impacts can affect physical, mental, and social well-being.

Some of the negative effects of gambling can be addressed with family therapy, marriage counseling, and career or credit counseling, which may help to restore relationships and finances. Some of the positive effects can be addressed with a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous that helps people recover from gambling addiction and overcome their compulsive behaviors. People can also try alternative activities to gamble, such as participating in a book club, joining a sports team, or volunteering for a worthy cause.