The Social Impacts of Gambling
Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event where there is some element of uncertainty or randomness. There is usually an intention to win a prize and the stakes are high. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including enjoyment, profit, social interaction and to relieve boredom or stress. However, some people become addicted to gambling and it can have severe negative impacts on their health, well-being, relationships and performance at work or study. It can also lead to debt and even homelessness. In addition, gambling can interfere with family and other personal relationships, especially if an individual becomes obsessed with the activity or lies to their friends and loved ones about their gambling habits.
Many people who gamble do not realise that it is a problem and may continue to bet despite the harms. They may try to minimise their gambling by hiding their betting and lying about how much they have lost. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and learn how to deal with unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. These might include exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, taking up new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques.
The social impacts of gambling can be measured at the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig. 1). Personal impacts induce effects on a personal level to gamblers themselves, while external impacts influence those who are not necessarily gamblers, such as family and colleagues.