What Are the Social Impacts of Gambling?

Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is at least partly determined by chance with the intent to win a prize. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as placing bets at casinos or slot machines, playing bingo, buying lottery tickets or scratch cards and betting on sports events. People gamble for many reasons, including to socialise and escape from boredom or stress. However, for some people gambling can become a serious problem that affects their health, work and personal relationships. If you’re worried about your own gambling behaviour, it’s important to know that help is available.

While the majority of gambling research has focused on economic costs and benefits, little has been published about the social impacts of gambling. Social impacts are defined as costs or benefits that aggregate societal real wealth and involve a person’s community or society at large, rather than just one individual. [32] A conceptual model for analyzing social impacts has been proposed by Williams et al. which distinguishes between financial, labor and health/well-being impacts. The model also distinguishes between internal and external impacts, with the former affecting gamblers and the latter affecting those outside of the gambling community.

Many factors can contribute to harmful gambling, such as an early big win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, poor understanding of random events and use of escape coping. People with underlying mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are more at risk of unhealthy gambling behaviours. Often, the first sign of gambling problems is excessive debt which can have severe consequences for your finances, health and wellbeing. If you’re concerned about your own gambling habits, speak to a StepChange Debt Advisor for free, confidential support.