Although gambling has positive effects on public services and society as a whole, studies of its negative consequences are rare. However, the negative impacts of gambling can be quantified using the health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights, also known as disability weights. These disability weights measure the per-person burden of the gambler’s health state on their quality of life. They are useful for determining intangible social costs of gambling, including the costs that the gambler may place on the social networks that surround him or her.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, as many as 2.2% of American adults are at risk for developing a gambling problem. A typical problem gambler may have several gambling problems. The problem can result in a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Gambling can lead to a range of social and emotional issues, including relationship stress, financial difficulty, and family violence. Helpline callers often decline to give their full names, revealing that they gamble for a variety of reasons.
Often, these individuals become preoccupied with gambling, which causes them to feel anxious or depressed. Usually, they return to gambling even when they lose money. They may even lie about their gambling activities to cover up their behavior. Often, they have lost significant relationships, careers, and educational opportunities because they have become dependent on other people’s money. These individuals often are self-diagnosed as pathological gamblers. Consequently, they may need help with problem gambling.
Impact of gambling on society
The impacts of gambling are multifaceted. These impacts can be both general and specific. While gambling is a recreational activity that can take time away from other activities, it can lead to serious problems if the behavior is chronic or problematic. The consequences of problem gambling can affect an individual and their family, their community, and society as a whole. Problem gamblers can bankrupt themselves and affect the family finances, as well as create social care costs.
Gambling impacts can be positive or negative, and have been studied in several areas. Some impact is positive: increased gambling revenues may reduce illegal gambling, which in turn lowers crime rates. Conversely, negative effects may increase crime. It is important to understand the full range of impacts before implementing public policies that may minimize negative effects and maximize positive impacts of gambling. Further, the social impacts of gambling should be considered before making decisions affecting the industry.