Gambling is an activity that involves risking money or anything else of value to predict the outcome of a game of chance, like on a scratchcard or betting with friends. The gambler wins if they guess correctly, and loses if they do not.
Gamblers can experience a number of negative effects from gambling, such as addiction and financial problems. They may also suffer from mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can be triggered by gambling or made worse by it. Some people find it difficult to control their gambling, and may hide how much they gamble from family and friends. This is known as secret gambling and can be very dangerous. Other people are unable to stop gambling, and even when they do win, they will keep betting in the hope that they will eventually get back all of their lost money. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’ and can lead to serious debt problems.
Many studies have focused on the economic costs and benefits of gambling, but these often ignore social impacts. This is because social impacts are non-monetary and therefore difficult to measure.
In the future, it is important that research into gambling’s impact is structured in a way that includes both financial and social dimensions. This can be achieved by using a public health approach, and using health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights to quantify intangible harms and benefits – both on the gambler and their significant others.