The Social Costs of Gambling


Gambling involves placing something of value – money, items or services – on an event that is either uncertain or unlikely to occur. The outcome of the event will be determined, in part, by chance and, in part, by a person’s skill or judgment. Although many people may be able to enjoy gambling without a problem, for some it becomes an addiction. Addiction to gambling is a complex disorder, and it can be difficult to identify and treat. The first step in the recovery process is seeking help from a trained professional. There are a number of organisations that provide support, assistance and counselling for people with gambling problems. These include peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition to peer support, there are also residential and inpatient treatment programmes aimed at those with serious addictions.

Gambling is a popular form of entertainment. People can place bets on almost anything, including sports events and horse races. The odds on any given bet are set by the betting company, and a punter can choose whether to take the risk of losing their stake or not. However, while gambling can be fun and exciting, it is important to remember that there is always the potential for a loss, so it is not suitable for everyone.

Some people with mental health issues find gambling an effective way to relieve stress, as it provides a distraction and a sense of euphoria. It is also a great source of motivation, giving individuals a goal to work towards and the satisfaction of accomplishment when they win. However, some individuals become reliant on gambling and start to gamble compulsively, which can cause significant harm to their lives.

The social costs of gambling are a complex issue, and it is difficult to measure accurately. Some studies attempt to do so by analysing the impact of a specific gambling establishment in a community. However, these studies are often gross impact studies that focus on a single aspect of the effect and do not pretend to provide a balanced perspective (Fahrenkopf 1995; Meyer-Arendt 1995).

Other studies compare a community before and after gambling has been introduced, assuming any changes can be attributed to gambling. For example, per capita incomes are typically higher after gambling is introduced, but this increase may also be due to economic growth in general or other factors unrelated to gambling (Grinols 1998). Finally, some studies try to identify the real costs of gambling by using a cost/benefit approach. However, these studies are generally limited in their scope and methodology, and they do not consider expenditure substitution effects or externalities (Grinols 1998). Consequently, they do not contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the social costs of gambling.