Social Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is placing something of value (such as money) on an event with an element of chance in order to win a prize. It has been an integral part of human society since prerecorded times and is today found in every culture. Gambling evokes a full range of human emotions and behaviors. It is a highly addictive activity that can result in negative social impacts at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society levels. [1]

People gamble for many reasons – some may play to have fun, some to get the feeling or rush, and some for financial reasons. For those who are addicted, gambling can become a way to escape from a stressful reality and is used as a source of thrill. It can be difficult to stop because the addiction hijacks the brain’s learning mechanism through random rewards.

Various factors can contribute to the development of gambling addiction, including genetic predisposition, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, the use of escape coping and stress. In addition, cultural influences, particularly in societies where gambling is considered a normal pastime, can make it harder to recognize problem behavior and seek help.

Gambling has been associated with a variety of impacts on societal real wealth, including social costs and benefits. In general, studies have focused on economic and labor impacts of gambling, whereas social and community/society level effects are less well understood. It is important to consider these impacts when designing interventions and evaluating programs.

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