Gambling Impacts on Health and Well-Being

The thrill of rolling the dice and hoping for that elusive big win – that’s what attracts many people to gambling. But whether it’s lottery tickets, online poker or putting together a fantasy sports team, gambling is not a surefire way to make money. In fact, a large percentage of gamblers lose more than they win. But that doesn’t stop some individuals from chasing their next big jackpot, even when it starts to cost them their health and well-being.

While some research scientists, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians believe that the progression from normal recreational gambling to pathological gambling is a linear process, others have challenged this view. The reality is that the progression from recreational to pathological gambling may occur over time in a varying pattern for different individuals, depending on their individual biological, social and environmental factors. Regardless of how a person progresses through the continuum, it’s important to recognise that all forms of gambling have negative impacts, both direct and indirect, that can impact not only the gambler but also those who are close to them.

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money, on an uncertain outcome based on chance and skill. Skill refers to the ability to use knowledge and reasoning to improve an individual’s chances of winning, and is typically absent in pure games of chance such as a lottery or a slot machine. However, a person’s skills can increase the probability of winning in some types of gambling, such as card games or horse racing.

Despite the risks and downsides, gambling is a popular pastime in most countries. It has many positive impacts, including enhancing leisure activities, fostering a sense of community and building relationships and providing financial benefits to society. Gambling can also have negative impacts on individuals and families, as well as the economy. It is important to understand how gambling can have a range of impacts so that governments and other organisations can identify and address those impacts.

The economic costs and benefits of gambling can be compared to the costs and benefits of other activities, such as sporting events, movies or restaurants. This allows for an assessment of the effectiveness of various interventions or policies to reduce harms and promote benefits.

In addition to monetary costs, there are also intangible costs associated with gambling, such as the emotional distress and loss of personal control experienced by gamblers. These intangible costs are not measurable in dollars, and can be difficult to quantify. In order to properly measure these costs, it is essential that a common nomenclature is used in the literature. This will enable researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders to compare the costs and benefits of gambling. This nomenclature should be consistent across disciplines and include all the costs and benefits of the activity, including the invisible effects on a personal level, those that affect family members and those that are societal/community wide. These include general costs, problem gambling costs and long-term costs.