The Positive and Negative Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is a form of risk taking, whereby you place something of value at stake in the hope that you will gain more than you lose. The value is usually money but can also be other things such as possessions, a prize or a reputation. Gambling takes many forms, including games of chance such as cards, dice and betting on events such as horse or greyhound races, football accumulators, elections or sports matches. There are four main reasons why people gamble. They may do it for social reasons, such as being part of a group activity, or because they want to win the jackpot and change their lives. They may also do it for financial reasons, or because they enjoy thinking about winning. Finally, some do it for the entertainment value, such as feeling that rush or “high” that comes from gambling.

The positive and negative impacts of gambling have been studied at the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels. Negative impacts can be categorized as financial, labor and health and well-being. Financial impacts include gambling revenues, tourism and effects on other industries. Labor impacts include changes in job performance and absenteeism. Finally, health and well-being impacts include changes in health and mental functioning.

Problem gambling is a complex issue that affects everyone involved in it, from the gambler to their family and friends. A key challenge is developing a common nomenclature for talking about the issue because research scientists, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians all frame the issues differently depending on their disciplinary training and world view.