The Social Impacts of Gambling
Gambling has many effects on individuals, families, and communities. While gambling’s financial and social costs are clearly quantified, what about the effects on individuals? How can the social costs of gambling be measured? What factors contribute to gambling’s negative social impacts? The social impacts of gambling are multidimensional and include not only the individual’s own financial situation, but those of their friends, colleagues, and family. Furthermore, the social impacts of gambling may even extend to the health and well-being of the individuals who are closest to the gambling addict.
Although many positive aspects of gambling have been documented, few studies have considered the negative ones. Using health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) weights, a method for measuring the per-person burden of a health state, researchers can assess the positive and negative social impacts of gambling. Researchers can also use this tool to discover the intangible social costs of gambling, such as its adverse effects on social networks and the overall quality of life of individuals and their families.
Gambling is a major global commercial activity and a $335 billion industry in 2009 alone. While most people are familiar with sports betting, poker, and casino games, there are also many other forms of gambling that are not legal in every state. In some states, gambling is permitted as part of a public event such as a race. The gambling activity can also include social activities, like private poker sessions. These activities, however, are often small and involve few participants and no door fee.
A recent survey of problem gamblers found that the number of people affected by problem gambling was higher among college-aged individuals. Researchers believe that these higher rates may be due to broader developmental issues. For instance, the British Gambling Prevalence Study found that college-aged men had higher rates of problem gambling than older groups. In contrast, problem gambling rates for women were only 0.2% among those aged 65-74 years. These findings point to the potential importance of addressing the root causes of problem gambling in a diverse population.
Despite the negative impacts of gambling, research suggests that there are many positive effects of gambling. For example, recreational gamblers are more likely to be in good health than nongamblers. Also, gambling can improve the self-concept of senior citizens, especially those from lower socioeconomic classes. Gambling can also increase an individual’s sense of optimism in challenging life circumstances. If the social benefits of gambling outweigh its negative effects, it may be worth a try.
Even though there are no specific risks associated with adolescent gambling, the consequences of this behavior are adolescent-specific. Problem gambling is considered to be persistent gambling that interferes with school, work, or relationships. Gambling at an early age can create problems and even alienate family members. However, it is possible for an individual to lose their home and family and still experience negative consequences, which are the result of early gambling.