Gambling negatively impacts individuals in a variety of ways. These effects can be personal, interpersonal, and community and society-wide. These effects are often long-lasting and change the course of an individual’s life. In some cases, these effects can lead to homelessness or bankruptcy. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or prevent gambling-related problems.
While the economic costs associated with gambling have been studied extensively, social costs have received less attention. However, studies have indicated that gambling can cause significant health and social costs. For example, problem gambling is a major contributor to higher crime rates. It also increases the risk of driving while intoxicated. Further, research has shown that problem gambling costs society between $51 million and $243 million annually.
Gambling also impacts the lives of significant others. Those with a gambling problem are likely to report lower work performance and decreased social interaction. Their significant others may even try to cover up their partner’s gambling by not spending enough time with them. This is particularly problematic for partners, who are more likely to experience financial impacts.
A leading independent expert on gambling impact analysis, Earl Grinols, determined that the long-term costs of a casino outweigh the benefits by a factor of three. As a result, a statewide coalition has been formed to oppose casino expansion in Connecticut. The group includes most major religious groups and the Connecticut League of Women Voters. Most recently, the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut joined the coalition as well.
There are other research studies that point to the positive effects of gambling. For example, people who work in the gambling industry typically earn a higher salary. However, only a small number of studies have examined the positive personal labor effects of gambling. In addition to this, most studies have focused on professional poker players, which is a small percentage of all gamblers.
Problem gamblers also have a higher body mass index than non-problem gamblers. They are also more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. Other research has revealed a close relationship between gambling and substance use. The authors of these studies reported that between 28 and 17 percent of problem gamblers suffer from alcohol or substance use disorders.
Many countries have implemented policies to prevent gambling problems. In the UK, a reality check tool has been introduced to encourage gamblers to set limits and notify them when they have reached that limit. This tool also lets them know how much time is left in the session. Furthermore, licensed vendors must abide by certain regulations to ensure fair gambling.
While the economic and social impacts of gambling can be easily quantified, there are also invisible costs. These include the stress caused by gambling and problems in relationships.