The Economic Costs and Benefits of Gambling

Gambling is a love it or hate it kind of thing and, like Marmite, it divides people. Some say it should be banned completely, while others believe that it is a harmless pastime that can boost the economy, provided it is regulated and done safely. However, it is important to remember that people will gamble regardless of whether the activity is legal or not. If they can’t do it in a regulated environment, they will go underground to find ways to gamble and, unfortunately, this often puts them into the hands of criminals.

There are many reasons why people choose to gamble, from socializing with friends, to thinking about what they would do with a jackpot win. But gambling can also be addictive and lead to serious problems, such as gambling disorders. In fact, the DSM-5 has recently moved gambling disorder into a category on behavioral addictions to highlight its similarities with substance-related disorders in terms of clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, and physiology.

In a study, the authors reviewed the economic costs and benefits of gambling, focusing on personal and interpersonal level impacts (costs/benefits that are invisible to individual players) as well as society/community level externalities such as general costs/benefits, costs related to problem gambling, and long-term effects [32]. Traditionally, studies have only considered financial impacts. This approach presents a biased view and does not fully capture the true cost of gambling to society. It is crucial to include all types of costs and benefits in any analysis.