The Negative Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which people stake money or other items on the outcome of an event. It can be done in a variety of ways, such as betting on horse races or football matches, playing slot machines, playing poker and putting together fantasy sports teams. It may also involve buying lottery tickets, speculating on business or insurance and stock market investing. Whatever the activity, it has both positive and negative impacts, which can vary by person and situation. The negative effects of gambling are more common than the positive ones, but they can still have serious consequences.

The definition of gambling has undergone a profound change in the past few decades, from being seen as an entertainment option to a mental health problem that requires intervention. This is reflected in the changing psychiatric classification of pathological gambling in various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. The change has also been influenced by research findings that point to the importance of psychological factors in predicting the likelihood of a gambler developing problems.

Moreover, there are many indirect costs associated with gambling. These include family and personal health problems, increased debt, financial strain and unemployment. These costs can escalate into homelessness or bankruptcy and may even lead to suicide.

It is important to note that these effects can occur even after a person stops gambling. The consequences can have long-term impact, create a change in the life course of an individual and even pass between generations. This is why it is important to consider both the negative and positive sides of gambling in order to make informed decisions and avoid any potential harm.

Negative impacts of gambling can be observed on the individual, interpersonal and community/society level (Fig. 1). Personal and interpersonal impacts induce effects on the gambler’s personal level and affect those close to him/her, such as friends and family members. Indirect costs and benefits on a personal level are general, problem gambling related and long-term.

On a societal/community level, the negative impacts of gambling are mostly monetary. These include repercussions on the economy, especially the hospitality industry and other leisure industries. In addition, there are negative impacts on public services and the quality of life. On the other hand, if money is spent on gambling, it can increase the amount of taxes paid. This can be beneficial to the community if it is used for beneficial purposes, such as education or environmental protection. Nonetheless, the methodological challenges of examining societal/community level impacts are substantial. This is mainly because they are difficult to quantify and measure. Moreover, they can be hidden or obscured by other social issues and phenomena, making it more challenging to identify them. Moreover, they are not easily comparable between different studies, due to differences in methodologies and study designs. For these reasons, they are less frequently included in the literature. However, they are important and should be considered in future research.