Social Costs of Gambling
Most studies have only focused on the economic and social costs of gambling. Social costs are often overlooked, but are vital to understanding gambling. Walker and Barnett’s definition of social cost states that the social costs of gambling are those that benefit no one while harming others. This definition includes costs that cannot be measured in dollars or in terms of economic losses, but are social rather than personal in nature. These costs are difficult to quantify in quantitative data but are nonetheless crucial for assessing gambling’s impact on society.
While gambling has been around for centuries in the U.S., it has been suppressed by law in many areas for almost as long. During the early 20th century, gambling was almost uniformly banned, and it fueled the rise of criminal organizations and the mafia. Despite the widespread bans on gambling, attitudes toward the activity gradually changed in the United States and gambling laws were liberalized. In the United States, gambling revenue reached $13.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021.
Gambling involves a risk of losing money, and is a way to win money or property. The legal amount of money wagered annually is around $10 trillion, though illegal gambling may exceed that figure. The most popular form of gambling worldwide is lotteries. Both legal and illegal lotteries expanded rapidly in the late 20th century. In addition, organized football pools can be found in nearly every European country, most of South America, Australia, and some Asian countries. State-licensed betting on horse races is also available in most countries.