The Social Impact of Gambling


Gambling is a popular recreational activity in most countries and involves risking something of value, such as money or goods. It requires a certain amount of skill and luck to win. There are many different ways to gamble, including putting bets on football matches or buying scratchcards. While some people have a flutter for fun, others have a serious problem with gambling, which can ruin their lives and cause debt. Compulsive gambling can be a hidden addiction that can affect the whole family.

Social costs and benefits of gambling are complex, difficult to quantify, and largely ignored by studies that focus only on economic impacts, which are easier to measure. Social impacts are a result of the personal effects of gambling, including financial problems for gamblers, their families and friends, loss of income and employment, and damage to relationships. They also include the negative consequences of gambling for society, such as crime, increased incarceration, and lowered productivity and slowed economic growth.

Psychiatric professionals have long recognized gambling as an impulse control disorder and a mental illness, but in a move that has been hailed as a breakthrough, the APA moved pathological gambling into the section on addictions in its latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The decision was based on research that suggests it is an addictive behavior like other compulsive behaviors such as kleptomania, pyromania, or trichotillomania.

Supporters of gambling argue that casinos bring tax revenue to local communities, allowing politicians to fund important projects without raising taxes elsewhere in the community. They also argue that gambling attracts tourism, which helps the economy by bringing money from outside the area. Opponents of gambling say it can increase social ills, such as drug abuse and crime, as well as harm the environment.

There are many different perspectives on gambling: it can be seen as an individual social pathology, a societal menace, a viable tool for economic development, and a specific means of assisting deprived groups. It is likely that each of these perspectives possesses some credibility, and the truth lies somewhere in between.

The personal and interpersonal impact of gambling includes invisible individual costs and external cost at the community/society level, which can be general, cost of problem gambling and long-term cost. Invisible individual costs include stress, a reduced quality of life and the loss of social contact. External costs at the community/society level include a reduction in social services and the increased cost of public health care. They can also include increased costs to employers, such as loss of productivity and the increased cost of hiring and training new employees.