The Social Impact of Gambling
Gambling is when you put something of value, such as money, on the outcome of a chance event – this can include betting on a team to win a football match, or playing a scratchcard. This risk is then matched to ‘odds’, such as 5/1 or 2/1, which indicate how much you could win if you gamble correctly. While this can be fun, it is important to understand that gambling is not a sure thing and there are risks involved.
Many people gamble for social reasons – it’s what their friends do, or they might be attracted to the idea of winning a large amount of money and having everything they want. Alternatively, they may be attracted to the thrill of winning and the sense of adrenaline that comes with it. People also gamble for coping reasons – it gives them a way to forget their worries and focus on the present moment.
People can be adamant about not gambling for various reasons, such as religious beliefs or family values. Nevertheless, more than 1 billion people gamble each year – and this makes it one of the most popular forms of entertainment around. Some of these people have a good reason to gamble, but for those with addictions or behavioural problems, it can be very harmful.
Problem gambling is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing concern across the world. Those affected by gambling disorders often feel alone and isolated, and may even attempt to hide their habits from loved ones. This can lead to serious consequences, such as strained relationships, bankruptcy, and legal issues. Some people even attempt suicide as a way to cope with the loss of control over their lives and finances.
The good news is that there are ways to help a person with a gambling disorder. For example, there are treatment and recovery programs for problem gambling available in a variety of settings, including inpatient or residential care. Other options for help include peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous and therapy focusing on the underlying causes of the gambling disorder. Some states have gambling helplines and other resources, and some individuals find relief from their symptoms through physical activity.
The economic impacts of gambling are well documented, but less research has been done on the social impacts. These are the costs and benefits that affect other people outside of the individual gambler, such as their families, friends, or workplace colleagues. These can include feelings of anger or betrayal from those closest to a compulsive gambler, and the cost of sourcing funds for gambling from other sources, such as crime or loans. Social impact assessment tools, such as Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL) weights or Disability Weights, can be used to measure intangible impacts and discover the broader harms of gambling.