Understanding the Impacts of Gambling


Gambling is an activity whereby people place bets, sometimes with money, on the outcome of events. This could be placing a bet on a football team to win or buying a scratchcard. The bets are made based on ‘odds’ set by the gambling company that predict how much you would win if you won. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will win and you are likely to lose some money in the long run.

Gamblers gamble for many reasons, such as the thrill of winning, socialising with friends and escaping worries or stress. However, it’s important to understand that gambling can cause problems if it becomes out of control. If you are struggling with a gambling problem, see our advice page for details of where to find help.

It is important to note that gambling can have impacts at different levels: the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig 1). The personal and interpersonal impacts are those that affect gamblers themselves; these include a loss of enjoyment and satisfaction with life, feelings of helplessness and guilt, as well as family conflicts. The community/society level impacts are those that affect people who are not gamblers themselves; these include financial and labor costs, as well as the exploitation of others by the gambler.

It is also worth noting that social impacts are non-monetary in nature and, as such, are often ignored in gambling impact calculations. This is because these impacts are largely invisible and do not aggregate societal real wealth, such as the cost of treatment or prevention of gambling-related problems.

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