Gambling involves placing a bet on an event that has a random outcome. It can be done with coins, dice, cards or machines. Gambling can have both negative and positive impacts on the gamblers, their significant others, families and society/community. These impacts are structured into classes of costs and benefits. The class of negative costs is known as problems and it is also referred to as gambling-related harms. Gambling-related positive impacts are called societal benefits and include tax revenues, social services expenditures, leisure time activities, and tourism revenue.
Some people have serious gambling addictions that affect their health, family, relationships and work performance. Problem gambling can lead to debt, bankruptcy and homelessness. This is a serious public health issue and it is important to address the issue by increasing awareness of the problem and providing support for people who are affected.
While research on the economic impact of gambling is abundant, there are relatively few studies on the social impacts of gambling. Most of the studies focus on the monetary costs and benefits, which are easily quantifiable. However, these studies may miss the most serious costs and benefits of gambling.
Gambling is a complex issue that can be viewed as an individual’s social pathology, a societal menace, a viable tool for economic development, or even as a means of assisting deprived groups. It is therefore critical to understand the complexities of gambling to develop effective policies that address its impacts.