The Social Impacts of Gambling
Gambling is a form of risk-taking that involves betting something of value (usually money) on an event with uncertain outcomes. It is an activity that can be enjoyable and rewarding, but also can cause harm. The harms can be psychological, financial, social and even physical. Gambling can also lead to substance abuse and other addictions. Some people are able to control their gambling behaviour, but others find it hard. Problem gambling can be devastating to those affected and may lead them into serious debt, or even homelessness. This is why it is important to understand the risks of gambling and how to stop.
While the negative social impacts of gambling are well documented, it is also important to consider the positive benefits that can occur. For example, gambling can provide social and recreational activities for families, friends, and community groups. In addition, it can contribute to a healthy economy. The following are some of the positive social effects of gambling:
For many people, the idea that a person can become addicted to an activity like gambling is controversial. However, this is now accepted as a fact. There are a number of warning signs that you might be gambling too much, such as hiding your gambling, lying to family and friends, or hiding evidence of your gambling. If you think that you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek help.
A good way to avoid getting into trouble is by only gambling with money that you can afford to lose. Do not gamble with money that you need for bills and rent. Set a budget and stick to it. Also, don’t chase your losses – this will only lead to bigger and bigger losses. It is best to set a loss threshold and stop gambling when you hit that limit.
In addition to monetary harms, problem gambling can have other adverse effects on the gambler’s health, their family, their friends and work colleagues. It can also result in poorer performance at work and school, and can even lead to suicidal thoughts. It is estimated that more than 400 suicides a year are associated with gambling problems.
Many studies have overlooked the social impacts of gambling, opting instead to focus solely on its economic costs and benefits. However, this presents a biased view of the issue. Williams et al.  define social impacts as costs and benefits that are not measurable in monetary terms. They argue that to qualify as a social impact, the cost or benefit must aggregate societal real wealth.
In order to measure social impacts, it is important that studies take a public health approach. This is in contrast to a market-based approach, which measures only consumer surplus, an arbitrary monetary measure that ignores nonmonetary costs and benefits. Moreover, using a monetary measure to quantify nonmonetary impacts creates problems in comparing results from different gambling policies. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that some studies have identified positive employment and income impacts from casino gambling.