The Impact of Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which people wager something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. While gambling is an enjoyable pastime for many people, for others it can be harmful and lead to serious problems such as financial ruin, homelessness and suicide. People who are struggling with a gambling problem can seek help and support from many organisations that offer help to control or overcome their addiction. These services can also provide support to the affected family and friends.

While a great deal of research has been conducted on the negative effects of gambling, positive impacts have been neglected. Studies often focus on the economic costs and benefits of gambling, which are easy to quantify, rather than on examining other impacts such as social and psychological costs. In addition, studies have tended to focus only on pathological or problematic gambling, neglecting the fact that many people can gamble safely and responsibly.

The impact of gambling can be seen on a personal, interpersonal and community/society level (Fig. 1). Personal impacts affect individuals who engage in gambling and can have detrimental effects on their health, well-being, relationships, performance at work or study and ability to interact with family members. Interpersonal impacts can be more complex and involve other people close to the gambler such as their family, friends or co-workers. Society/community impacts can include negative societal and environmental effects, such as increased crime, poor quality of life, increased stress levels, drug use and mental health problems.

In order to gain a greater understanding of the impact of gambling, it is essential to understand the reasons why people gamble. Many people gamble for coping purposes, such as to forget their worries or because it makes them feel confident. This does not absolve them of their responsibility, but it can help you to better understand their reasoning so that you are able to avoid being critical or acting out of anger.

Another reason why it is important to understand the motivations of people who gamble is because it can help you to recognise signs that a person’s gambling is out of control. For example, some people may hide their gambling from their family and friends or start hiding evidence of their gambling. If you notice any of these signs, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

People who gamble are often influenced by the cultural beliefs and values of their societies, which can make it hard to recognise when gambling is becoming a problem. In addition, many people have difficulty asking for help when they are struggling with gambling issues because of the stigma attached to it. However, there are many stories of people who have overcome their gambling problems and gone on to achieve success in the worlds of sport, music and business. For example, former England international footballer Tony Adams set up the Sporting Chance clinic to help other players with gambling problems and James Grimes has worked via his group The Big Step to support other people who struggle with gambling issues.