Gambling Impacts

Gambling is betting something of value, usually money, on an event with a fixed or uncertain outcome. It is common in horse racing, boxing, numerous playing-card and dice games, cockfighting, jai alai, and bingo, among many other activities. The odds of winning are set by the betting company based on probability, which is the chance that an event will occur.

Gambling impacts can be observed at personal, interpersonal, and community/society levels (Fig. 1). Personal impacts affect gamblers themselves and can involve changes in finances, lifestyle, and well-being. Interpersonal and community/societal impacts include effects on people who are not gamblers themselves such as family members, friends, and coworkers. They can also include negative impacts on a community such as increased crime, decreased quality of life, and declining social capital.

Costs and benefits of gambling can be difficult to identify and quantify. Studies often focus on a single aspect of economic effect, neglecting other important aspects or making little effort to separate out costs and benefits. Gross impact studies, which simply report a sum of casino revenues and expenditures without attempting to calculate the number of jobs created or taxes paid, are one type of study that tends to ignore other types of impacts.

If you or a loved one has a problem with gambling, seek counseling. Counseling can help you deal with the stress, emotional turmoil, and financial issues that gambling can cause. It can also help you explore your options and develop a plan to overcome the problem.