The Social Impact of Gambling

Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event, where instances of strategy are discounted. It requires three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize.

Despite the common notion that gambling is all about money, people gamble for a number of reasons. Some do it for the thrill, or to change their mood, while others seek social rewards or intellectual challenge. The underlying factors that trigger gambling problems include anxiety, depression, stress, or substance abuse. Compulsive gambling may even make these conditions worse.

Some of the most important aspects of gambling are the societal/community level impacts, which concern non-gamblers and their relationships with gamblers. For example, the financial impact of gambling affects family members’ lives. The escalating costs of gambling can even lead to bankruptcy and homelessness. These impacts, however, are difficult to measure because they are often intangible and subjective.

Many of these impacts can be addressed by strengthening the gambler’s support network. This can be done by reaching out to friends, joining a book club or sports team, enrolling in an educational class, volunteering for a worthy cause, or finding a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. The latter is based on the 12-step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous and helps individuals stay away from gambling for good. Taking responsibility for managing finances and setting limits in how much money and time to spend on gambling are also key. It is also important to stop chasing losses and learn how to recognize problem gambling symptoms.