Gambling is a popular form of leisure activity in many countries. Although it is a form of entertainment, it can also have negative social and economic impacts. Among the most well-known forms of gambling are lotteries, casino games, and sports betting.
Despite the popularity of gambling in many nations, there is still a need for research to evaluate its effects. Many studies have measured the financial and economic benefits of gambling, but few have investigated its social or psychological effects. Some have even attempted to quantify the benefits of gambling in terms of consumer surplus. This measure has been criticized, however, because it fails to consider the cost of the harms and benefits it might create.
The social impact of gambling can be measured at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society levels. These impacts can be both direct and indirect. They can be seen as a societal effect, such as changes in financial situations or infrastructure costs, or as a less obvious impact, such as problems affecting family members. Several studies have focused on problem gambling.
Problem gambling is a behavioral disorder, characterized by persistent, uncontrollable urges to gamble. It often leads to financial stress, and may even lead to homelessness. People affected by this disorder may need assistance from a counselor or support group. Fortunately, there are helplines available across the country. If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction, call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or the National Gambling Helpline at 800-429-2346.
Besides problem gambling, gambling has a number of other negative health and social effects. For example, pathological gambling is associated with increased risks of marital and dating violence, and homicide in the family. Other common harms include petty theft from family members and illicit lending. Studies have shown that the amount of money legally wagered each year is $10 trillion. Even illegal gambling could exceed that figure.
In the United States, a study found that legal age for gambling varies widely among states, with some allowing underage youth to buy lottery tickets. During the late twentieth century, state-operated lotteries in the United States expanded dramatically. Lotteries in Europe also grew rapidly.
Gambling has been studied in recent years to determine its economic and social impact. Although a monetary amount is not always possible, a few studies have measured its effects in terms of cost and consumer surplus.
A major challenge in conducting such studies is determining what types of social and other impacts should be included. Because of the complexity of gambling, the best approach is to use a public health methodology to assess the impact of gambling on a variety of measures. Such an approach is largely based on existing literature. Research can fill in gaps in knowledge, which is essential for the construction of an evidence-based gambling policy.
As part of the aforementioned public health method, the best way to determine whether a particular measure is useful or useless is to perform a cost-benefit analysis. This is a mathematical model that attempts to discover the effects of gambling by assigning values to both its positive and negative aspects.