The Social Impacts of Gambling

For many people gambling is a fun and harmless pastime but, for some, problem gambling can cause serious harm. It can damage personal relationships, lead to debt and even homelessness. It can also affect work performance and cause stress, anxiety and depression. It is important to recognise the signs and get help if you think you have a gambling problem. There are a number of organisations that can offer support and advice.

Almost all forms of gambling involve risk-taking, and as such they are associated with both positive and negative social impacts. These impacts can be categorized in terms of their severity and impact on different levels of the socioeconomic hierarchy: financial, labor, and health and well-being. In general, financial impacts are measured in terms of changes in gambling revenues and costs (e.g., taxes and other expenditures). Labor impacts are the consequences of the gambler’s activity on his/her job performance, including absenteeism and ill-health. Finally, health and well-being impacts are those that are measurable in terms of quality of life and other nonmonetary measures.

A common misconception is that a person’s gambling behavior is influenced solely by chance and luck, as opposed to other factors such as social and family relationships, personality and character traits, and motivational aspects. However, research has shown that gambling is more than just a game of chance. Gambling is a complex behavioral phenomenon that involves a mix of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes. It is characterized by the formation of habits, which leads to a pattern of consumption that can be described as “addiction.”