The Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is an activity characterized by risk-taking in exchange for the opportunity to win money. It is an integral part of many societies and economies and contributes to the economic stability and growth of countries around the world. It is a social and cultural activity that brings together people in gambling venues for interaction and play in a friendly setting. It also provides an escape from reality and is often used by low socioeconomic groups to boost their self-esteem.

Whether it is betting on a football team or buying a scratchcard, gamblers will usually make a choice about what they want to bet on and then ‘odds’ are set which tell them how much money they could potentially get if they win. This is an important part of the process as it is only through chance that you will be able to win and lose, regardless of your skill.

When analysing the impacts of gambling it is important to consider both positive and negative costs and benefits. This can be achieved using a model that distinguishes between personal, interpersonal and societal/community level externalities. Personal impacts are invisible to the gambler and include general costs/benefits, costs related to problem gambling and long-term cost/benefits. Interpersonal impacts affect the gamblers’ significant others and are mostly non-monetary.

In the past, studies have often only examined the negative aspects of gambling such as the harms to gamblers and their families but this is an incomplete picture. It is important to recognise that gambling can have a wide range of impacts, both positive and negative, on the gambler and their family as well as society. These can be quantified by health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights or a disability weight (DW) to measure the intangible and often ignored social costs of gambling.