Gambling is an activity in which people gamble money or things of value for a chance to win. It includes games of chance (including card games, fruit machines, video-draw poker and slot machines) and betting on sporting events, horse races and lotteries. Technology makes it easier to bet and many people now gamble online.
Despite the positive aspects of gambling, there are also significant negative impacts. Often, individuals who engage in gambling become addicted to the activity and suffer from gambling disorder. These individuals may be able to stop gambling through peer support, cognitive-behavioral therapy and family or individual counseling.
The social and economic costs of gambling vary widely from country to country. Among the most important costs are those associated with societal and criminal harm. These include financial losses, health and social costs and other nonmonetary harms, such as reduced community cohesion and increased crime rates.
Socioeconomic costs of gambling depend on the degree and intensity of harms. Studies show that problem gamblers are more likely to be poor and live in poverty than people without gambling problems. In addition, gambling has been linked to crime, a decrease in personal wealth and a decline in social capital [6, 7].
Impacts of gambling on society can be structuralized in a conceptual model by categorizing the benefits and costs as either negative or positive. Benefits and costs can be categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health, and well-being.
Behavioral and psychological effects of gambling are usually assessed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for mental disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The newest version of the DSM lists pathological gambling as an addiction alongside other addictive behaviors, such as alcoholism and smoking.
Negative consequences of gambling include: loss of property, bankruptcies and other financial difficulties; alienation of friends and family members; and loss of self-esteem and relationships. Adolescents are especially vulnerable to adverse consequences of gambling due to their formative years and a lack of experience with the risk-reward ratio of this activity.
A person who has a gambling problem can also be harmed by other factors, such as stress, depression and low self-esteem. Moreover, problem gamblers are more likely to be depressed and to have less social support than people who do not have gambling problems.
Other harms of gambling include violence and aggression. Research has shown that people who have a gambling problem are more likely to be victims of dating violence, sexual assault and intimate partner violence than people without a gambling problem.
In addition, problem gamblers are more likely to commit crimes such as petty theft from family members or to lend money illegally. These crimes are often committed in partnership with their significant others and can result in a variety of interpersonal relationships being affected.
Considering the large amount of money that people lose through gambling, it is not surprising that many people have concerns about the negative consequences of this activity. In addition, many people feel that gambling is a sin and that it is not healthy for them or their families.