The Effects of Gambling on Gamblers and Their Significant Others

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the intent of winning a prize. It can take place in casinos, lotteries, sporting events, and other venues. It can also happen at home or on the Internet. Its risks include losing money and strained relationships. While many people gamble without experiencing problems, some develop a gambling disorder. The biggest step is recognizing that you have a problem and seeking help.

Several studies have demonstrated that gambling has negative impacts on gamblers and their significant others, including family members and coworkers. These impacts can be structural, affecting the financial, labor and health/well-being domains of an individual’s life. They can be at the personal level, affecting only the gamblers themselves; interpersonal, affecting those close to the gamblers (friends and family); or community/society level, involving others who pay for or benefit from the gambling activities.

However, longitudinal studies of the effects of gambling are rare because of logistical barriers (e.g., the massive funding required for a multiyear commitment); challenges of maintaining research team continuity over a long period; and concerns that repeated testing may affect gambling behavior or behavioral reports. Nevertheless, longitudinal research is becoming increasingly common and sophisticated, and more theory-based. It could reveal a variety of harms, including the development of gambling problems over time and across generations; the effect of early gambling experience; and the impact of changes in economic conditions on gamblers and their significant others.