The Social Impacts of Gambling
Gambling involves wagering something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on an uncertain event whose outcome is determined by chance or accident. It is distinguished from other recreational activities such as playing sports, reading, watching television or attending a concert.
Gambling can cause a variety of negative impacts at the personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels. At the personal level, gambling can cause a person to lose self-control. It can also interfere with normal life and responsibilities, cause problems with family and friends, lead to debt and even bankruptcy. Problem gamblers may end up in a cycle of losses that result in depression and suicide. Gambling can also increase the risk of substance use disorders (e.g., alcohol and drugs).
It is important to note that the social impacts of gambling are often invisible. As a result, they tend to be overlooked in studies of gambling. Most researchers focus only on the monetary costs and benefits and ignore the social effects of gambling. This is due in part to Miles’ Law-the more someone stands to gain from something, the more likely they are to support it. Elected government leaders who see gambling as a way to solidify their city’s economic base often support it. Bureaucrats in agencies that are promised gambling revenue often support it as well. And the owners of large casinos often support it because they can make a lot of money from it.