The Impact of Gambling

Gambling is putting something of value at risk on an event that involves chance (such as a football game or scratchcard) with the intention to win something else of value. The odds, or chances of winning, are based on the probability of an event happening and the ratio of the risk to the reward.

There are many positive and negative effects of gambling. Negative effects include increased debt and financial stress, family problems and social distancing. Positive effects include socializing, mental development and skill improvement. However, it is important to remember that gambling can also lead to addiction.

The impact of gambling can be structured into costs and benefits categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health, and well-being. These classes manifest at personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels (Fig. 1).

Costs are monetary and aggregate societal real wealth, while benefits are non-monetary. Traditionally, studies have mostly focused on measuring the economic costs and benefits of gambling, disregarding personal and interpersonal impacts, as they are hard to quantify.

This approach creates a misleading picture of the impact of gambling, as it excludes the impact on people’s lives. To make sure you’re not causing yourself harm, only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and set limits for yourself for how long and how much you’ll spend. This is best done by separating it from your entertainment budget so that you’re not tempted to spend more than you can afford to lose.