Social and Economic Costs of Gambling


The earliest recorded evidence of gambling comes from ancient China, where tiles dating back to about 2,300 B.C. were used to play a rudimentary lottery-type game. While gambling is an expensive pastime, it can be profitable if done correctly. In the second quarter of 2021, the US gambling industry will be worth $13.6 billion. However, the underlying costs of gambling are not always clear. Whether gambling is harmful or beneficial depends on the strategy used, as well as the amount of time spent on it.

Economic cost-benefit analysis

Social costs of gambling have been measured in Australia. These costs are between 0.3% and 0.7% of the GDP. Other studies have found similar results. Typically, the economic cost of gambling is measured separately from the social costs. Social costs do not include the social security contributions that are not able to be quantified. However, other factors, such as the emotional pain of pathological gamblers’ family members, can be considered. In the following sections, we will discuss both the social costs and benefits of legalized gambling.

Socioeconomic impacts

The socioeconomic impacts of gambling are not only detrimental to individual people, but also to society as a whole. The increased use of gambling in the entertainment sector contributes to crime and driving under the influence. This in turn has an impact on crime and public safety. There have been reports of casinos inflaming public tempers and causing homelessness. Additionally, gambling is known to lead to divorce and children being placed on support. Unfortunately, there are few studies on the socioeconomic effects of gambling.

Social costs

The social costs of gambling have been calculated in two different ways: as a lump sum for prevention measures and as earmarked research grants. In the former case, the number of gamblers affected is multiplied by the average unit cost per person. The latter method combines epidemiological data from the Swelogs survey with unit cost data from Statistics Sweden. The study also estimates the costs of crime, legal, and health care services for problem gamblers.

Problem gamblers

Studies have shown that the neuroendocrine response of problem gamblers during gambling is similar to the stress response of people who have experienced acute stressors. In particular, their heart rate and epinephrine levels increase significantly during the actual gambling sessions. However, these elevated levels persist for a prolonged period. These results suggest that gambling is associated with increased risks of mental health and substance abuse. Unfortunately, no proven treatment exists for problem gambling.

Costs to society

While the economic consequences of gambling have long been acknowledged, the social consequences have received far less attention. Nevertheless, it is crucial to distinguish between the two types of costs – social and economic – when evaluating the effect of gambling. In addition to the economic consequences, social costs include emotional and productivity losses incurred by the gambler and their family. However, these costs may not necessarily be related to crime. The social costs of gambling are not directly measurable, but their effects are certainly significant.