Public Health Implications of Gambling

Gambling is a recreational activity where consumers wager something of value on an event with the aim of winning another item of value. The wagering can be done with cash, goods or services and also in the form of collectible game pieces such as marbles, pogs or Magic: The Gathering cards [3]. It is a global phenomenon that has been around for thousands of years. It has been a source of socializing and even mental development, with players learning about odds and strategy. It can also promote a sense of belonging and improve self-esteem. However, gambling can have negative effects as well if it is done compulsively or becomes addictive.

The benefits of gambling include relief from stress and boredom, improved mood and feelings of control and a chance to win money. It is often used as a coping mechanism for depression or anxiety. However, it is not always easy to know the positive impacts of gambling because most studies focus on only monetary costs and benefits. It is therefore important to consider the broader implications of gambling and to investigate the costs and benefits of gambling from a public health perspective.

Unlike traditional economic impact analysis, which usually only measures monetary costs and benefits, a public health approach can also discover social impacts, such as quality of life and social cohesion, that may be difficult to measure by other methods. These can be incorporated into impact assessment using disability weights, which can be applied to individual gamblers or their significant others and can help researchers and policymakers compare different impacts of gambling.