The Effects of Gambling on Society


Gambling is a social activity where people place bets on the outcome of a game that involves chance. It can take the form of betting on sports, games such as baccarat and roulette, and lotteries.

Some people gamble to relieve stress, unwind or socialize with friends. However, there are ways to manage these urges and alleviate unpleasant feelings without gambling.

Mental health benefits

Gambling has been linked to improved mood, increased happiness and a reduction in depression and anxiety. It also helps to improve problem solving skills and financial management.

Economic costs

Gambling generates economic and social costs, both to individuals and communities. Such costs include traffic congestion, demand for more public infrastructure or services (roads, schools, police, fire protection), environmental effects, displacement of local residents, increased crime and pathological or problem gambling.

Benefit-cost analysis

A benefit-cost analysis of gambling provides a more balanced perspective on the economic and social effects of gambling. It incorporates such factors as real costs versus economic transfers, tangible and intangible effects, direct and indirect effects, present and future values, and gains and losses experienced by different groups in various settings (Gramlich, 1990:229).

The research literature on gambling’s effect on society is sparse and poorly developed, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. Several sets of studies focus on a single aspect of the economic impact of gambling, such as casino revenues or expenditures, with little effort given to assessing the balance between costs and benefits.