The Social Costs of Gambling


Gambling involves placing something of value (usually money) at risk on a random event with the hope of winning a prize. It may be done in a variety of ways, such as with paper tickets, coins, chips, cards, instant scratch-off tickets, slot machines, horses or animals, sports events, and dice.

While gambling can be an enjoyable pastime for some, it can also have negative effects, including addiction and financial ruin. It can also cause problems with family and friends. In addition, it can be a source of stress and depression. It is important for people to seek help if they have a gambling problem.

Those with gambling disorders often exhibit symptoms such as feelings of shame and loss of self-worth, difficulty sleeping, changes in eating patterns, mood swings and even suicidal thoughts. It is also important for those with gambling disorders to learn healthier ways of coping, such as exercising and spending time with friends who don’t gamble or trying new hobbies.

It’s estimated that one person who has a gambling problem affects at least seven other people – their spouse, children, extended family members and friends. Moreover, the cost of gambling can have significant impacts on society. Consequently, it’s essential for researchers to develop common methodologies for assessing the social costs of gambling.

In this article, we propose an initial conceptual model of social impact assessment to guide future research. Specifically, we use a “three-level” approach to distinguish between personal, interpersonal and community/society level impacts (Fig. 1). Personal and interpersonal impacts focus on the gamblers themselves. However, these are difficult to quantify and are therefore often overlooked in studies.

Similarly, community/society level impacts are often ignored because they are non-monetary and have no direct relationship to gambling. They include impacts on community well-being and the quality of life, such as reduced quality of life, increased stress, decreased community spirit and poorer health outcomes.

We conducted a comprehensive literature search in six major bibliographic databases in psychology, public health, sociology, and social policy. We included both quantitative and qualitative research studies that explored the social costs of gambling. In addition, we included articles focusing on consumer debt among gambling populations.

The majority of studies focus on the financial aspect of gambling, and only a few studies explore the personal and interpersonal aspects of the problem. In our opinion, this is a significant shortcoming. In order to address this gap, we suggest that future research focuses on both the financial and personal/interpersonal aspects of gambling, as well as the interplay between them. This would lead to a more holistic understanding of the social impacts of gambling. Additionally, it would allow us to better identify ways to reduce the negative impacts of gambling on the individual and societal levels. Moreover, this would help us avoid overstating the benefits of gambling while overlooking the potential harms. Ultimately, this could reduce the number of people who gamble problematically and help them recover from their gambling habits.