Gambling Impacts on Individuals and Communities


Gambling is a form of entertainment, where people wager something of value on a chance event. Typically, gamblers predict the outcome of a game, and if they win, they can get a cash prize. But gambling is also a source of financial risk. It is also a type of addiction, in which a person becomes unable to resist the temptation to engage in gambling. In addition to losing money, gamblers can exhibit cognitive and motivational biases, and may even be more susceptible to trauma and a sense of loss.

While many studies have measured the costs of gambling and its impact on individuals, most have largely ignored social and community impacts. This is because they are difficult to measure and often invisible. Hence, it is necessary to fill in the gaps in research to construct a broader evidence base on gambling impacts.

One way to assess the gambling impacts of an individual is by measuring health-related quality of life weights (HRQOL). Unlike financial and monetary impacts, these weights are intangible in nature, and can be used to identify gambling harms that affect gamblers’ social networks. Compared with nongamblers, recreational gamblers report a better HRQOL. However, a minority of adults have reported that they engage in gambling as a major leisure activity.

Gambling is a very popular recreational activity, and most adults engage in some type of gambling at some point in their lives. Gambling is a fun, social experience that can provide a sense of social connection. Some consumers engage in gambling to alleviate financial stress, or to help them escape problems in their lives. Others may use the dream of winning money as motivation.

A growing number of adults have engaged in some type of gambling. Compulsive gambling is more common among men, especially in middle-aged and older adults. Problem gambling is a serious issue for the gambler and their family. Several types of therapy are available for problem gamblers. These include family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy.

The introduction of casinos to the United States has had a negative impact on communities. Several studies have linked casinos with increased rates of violent crime. Casinos are also associated with increased rates of driving while intoxicated. Other studies have shown that gambling reduces social isolation and promotes a sense of connectedness.

Some studies have linked problem gambling to an increase in intimate partner violence, homicide, and dating violence. Research suggests that pathological gambling increases the odds of severe child abuse. Studies have found that pathological gamblers account for $1000 in excess lifetime police costs per person. Although studies have not fully assessed the impacts of gambling on the public, a public health approach has been developed to examine the gambling impacts of a range of severity.

Gambling’s impacts are generally divided into three categories, namely general, interpersonal, and community/society impacts. The societal level impacts are the most difficult to study and evaluate. Consequently, a conceptual model was developed by Williams et al. (2009) to address this gap.