The Social Impact of Gambling

A form of entertainment in which people place bets on the outcome of an event, such as a game of chance or a sporting contest. Gambling is commonly conducted at brick-and-mortar casinos, in live sporting events, on television or via the Internet. Increasingly, gambling is also available from mobile devices.

Problematic gambling can result from a number of factors. These include an expectation of an early big win, the size of a previous winning bet, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, a poor understanding of random events, use of escape coping and stressful life experiences. People with pathological gambling are at increased risk for criminal activity, including petty theft from family members and illicit lending, and have higher rates of intimate partner violence.

There are many healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. Counseling can help people learn to recognize and address problem gambling behaviors and develop skills to cope with them. Therapy can include psychodynamic therapy, which helps individuals understand how unconscious processes influence their behavior, and group therapy for those with gambling disorders.

While most studies of gambling have focused on financial and labor impacts, research has largely overlooked social costs and benefits. Those impacts are harder to measure and can be complex. They are categorized into personal, interpersonal and community/society levels. They can involve changes in personal wealth, job losses and gains, and social cohesion. They can also contribute to societal well-being and economic development.