The Impact of Gambling

Gambling involves placing something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome depends mostly on chance. There are many different forms of gambling: betting on a sports team to win, buying a scratchcard, playing slots or bingo. In general, there are three elements: consideration, risk and a prize.

Gamblers may experience a variety of negative impacts, including a reduction in quality of life and strained or broken relationships. Some people even become addicted to gambling. In these cases, the compulsion can lead to financial problems and even bankruptcy. Pathological gambling (PG) is a form of gambling addiction that affects around 0.4-1.6% of Americans. It is often identified in adolescence or young adulthood and manifests as a series of recurrent maladaptive patterns of behavior. PG tends to develop more rapidly in males than females and is more likely to occur with strategic or face-to-face gambling activities, such as poker, blackjack, and roulette.

The impact of gambling can be structuralized in a model that divides impacts into costs and benefits. These can be observed at personal, interpersonal and community/society level. Personal/interpersonal levels refer to effects that affect gamblers directly, while external level relates to impacts that are visible at the society/community level and concern other individuals who are not gamblers. These include financial, labor and health and well-being impacts.

Overcoming a gambling addiction takes tremendous strength and courage, especially if it has led to a lot of money lost or strained relationships. But you don’t have to do it alone: There are a number of treatment and support services available for problem gamblers, including one-to-one therapy, group counseling and inpatient or residential rehab programs.