Gambling involves betting on a random event with the hope of realizing a profit. It can be as simple as choosing a football team to win, or as complicated as buying a scratchcard. The event chosen is matched to ‘odds’, which set how much the gambler could win or lose. The odds are usually displayed as a number, such as 5/1 or 2/1, and the result of the event will be determined by the luck of the draw.

While gambling has been a part of many cultures throughout history, its influence is growing rapidly in the modern world. Its popularity is due to many factors, including the increasing accessibility of online casinos and mobile applications, the increase in advertising by reputable brands, and the perception that gambling is a low-risk, high reward entertainment choice. However, this is a misconception that is far from the truth. Regardless of how much money is won or lost, gambling can have detrimental effects on the health and well-being of those who participate.

The psychological impact of gambling is complex and multifaceted, and affects people from all walks of life. Problem gamblers can be young or old, male or female, rich or poor, and come from all races and religions. Those who develop gambling problems may also suffer from other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. They may even be prone to self-harm and suicide, as they attempt to cope with their addiction.

Research has shown that gambling activates the brain’s reward system, triggering a release of dopamine. This chemical is similar to the one produced by drugs of abuse, which may explain why some individuals find it hard to stop gambling. Additionally, the uncertainty and risk associated with gambling can be very addictive, as it can lead to feelings of pleasure and excitement.

In addition to the personal and psychological impacts, gambling can have economic, labor, and health and well-being implications on a community/society level. These impacts occur at the individual, interpersonal, and society/community levels (Fig. 1). Financial impacts can include changes in gambling revenues, tourism, and the effects on other industries. Labor impacts can include changes in productivity, employee absenteeism and performance, job gains and losses, and unemployment. Health and well-being impacts can be the result of increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and depression.

While most studies focus on the economic costs and benefits of gambling, there are many other important aspects that must be taken into account, especially the social impact of gambling. In this article, we review complementing and contrasting views on the social impact of gambling to create a conceptual model that can help guide future research. The proposed model is described below: