The Positive and Negative Impacts of Gambling

Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. This can be as simple as placing a wager on a football match or buying a scratchcard, with the outcome determined by chance. Gambling has both positive and negative impacts on personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels. Financial benefits can include gambling revenues, tourism and economic growth. Labor and health impacts of gambling can include increased debt, decreased productivity, absenteeism and reduced performance at work. Social/community level external costs and benefits of gambling can be monetary as well, such as problem gambler’s family debt and bankruptcy, as well as the cost to society of the addiction treatment and rehabilitation services needed by those who experience pathological gambling.

Supporters of gambling often argue that the societal benefits far outweigh the costs, including tax revenues and jobs created by casino and other gaming establishments. Opponents counter that allowing more people to gamble increases the likelihood of a gambling problem and contributes to other social ills such as crime, bankruptcy, divorce, drug abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.

It is important to recognise and address any underlying mood issues that may be contributing to harmful gambling behaviour. Seeking help for depression, anxiety or stress is a good starting point. Other healthy ways of relieving boredom or soothing unpleasant feelings are to exercise, spend time with friends who do not gamble, try new hobbies or practice relaxation techniques. For those who find it hard to control their spending, a good way to start is by setting money and time limits for each session.