Public Health and Gambling

The act of wagering something of value on an event that is determined by chance. This includes activities like lotteries, casino games and sports betting. Some gambling activities require skill, but most involve chance and some degree of risk.

Gambling is also known as ‘gambling addiction’ and can have a wide range of negative consequences for gamblers and those around them. It can cause debt and financial problems, mental health issues, relationship difficulties, and even suicide. It is important to recognise when you may have a problem and seek help. If you are unsure, speak to your GP or a trained counsellor.

There are also some positive aspects to gambling. For example, recreational gamblers are more likely to report better physical and mental health than nongamblers. This is probably because they enjoy the escapism and excitement of playing. The possibility of a small win may also give them hope and increase their self-esteem. In addition, the social interactions that occur in gambling can help reduce loneliness and social isolation.

While there are many studies that examine the positive and negative impacts of gambling, longitudinal research on gambling is scarce. This is partly because of the challenges involved in conducting such a study, including the need for a large investment and the difficulty in maintaining research team continuity over a long period. Furthermore, the results of longitudinal studies are difficult to interpret because of aging and period effects. Nevertheless, there is increasing interest in using a public health approach to examining the impact of gambling on gamblers and their significant others, such as through the use of disability weights (DWs). These would allow us to measure intangible costs associated with gambling.