The Social Impact of Gambling


Gambling is an activity that involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. It is considered to be a form of addiction, although the DSM does not define it as such (American Psychiatric Association, 1987). In a social-psychological sense, gambling is an impulsive behavior and can be regarded as a disinhibitory activity that may contribute to risky and problematic behaviors and life events.

Gambling can generate economic benefits, including jobs and revenue for local communities. In addition, gambling can also create a social setting where people from different backgrounds can connect over a shared interest. However, people should consider the risks and potential consequences before engaging in gambling activities.

The negative impacts of gambling are largely related to a lack of self-control and impulse control. Studies show a positive correlation between gambling and other forms of impulsive behavior, such as sensation-and novelty-seeking, arousal, and negative emotionality. In addition, gambling is associated with diminished mathematical skills, impaired judgment, cognitive distortions, mental illness, and moral turpitude.

While monetary costs of gambling are well documented, there have been methodological challenges in examining the social impact of gambling. For instance, social impacts that are invisible and not measurable in monetary terms, such as the emotional stress and relationship problems gamblers experience, have been largely ignored in studies. In order to address these issues, researchers need a common nomenclature and framework for evaluating gambling impacts.