The Impacts of Gambling

Gambling involves placing a bet on an event or game with the intention of winning something of value, such as money or other prizes. It’s a risky activity that can cause serious financial and psychological problems for some people. People gamble for many different reasons. Some do it for fun, while others are addicted to gambling and can’t stop. Some people may have an underactive brain reward system, or they might be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. Others may have cultural values that encourage gambling as a social pastime, which makes it harder for them to recognise a problem when it occurs.

People choose what they want to bet on – it could be a football match, a lottery, or even a scratchcard. This is then matched against a set of odds – for example, 5/1 or 2/1 – which determine how much they might win if they were to win the bet. The person then places their wager and waits to find out whether they’ve won or lost.

Gambling has both negative and positive impacts on a gambler, their significant other and the community/society. While research has largely focused on the negative and quantifiable impacts of gambling, there is also evidence of positive community benefits resulting from gambling. These community benefits are not widely recognised. The impacts of gambling can be structuralised using a model where costs and benefits are categorized as financial, labor and health, and well-being. These manifest at personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels and include invisible individual and external costs, general, and problem gambling related, as well as long-term costs.