The Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is a form of risk-taking, in which an individual places something of value, such as money or other assets, on an event that is determined at least partly by chance and has a potential reward. It is important to note that a person does not have to win the gambling game in order to have a positive impact. While most people associate gambling with casinos and slot machines, gambling can take many forms, such as playing bingo or buying lottery tickets, betting on sports or office pools.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralised using a cost-benefit model, where benefits and costs are categorized into three classes: financial, labour and health/wellbeing (Fig. 1). Financial impacts include changes in personal and household finances, economic activity and growth, gambling revenues, tourism, and the effects of gambling on other industries. Labour impacts include gamblers’ job performance, absenteeism, and other negative effects on the workforce and well-being.

Health/wellbeing impacts include gambling’s direct and indirect effects on the physical, psychological, and social aspects of life. These can include stress, family problems, depression, and suicide. In addition, gambling can lead to addiction and other negative behaviours such as drug use and alcohol abuse.

Having a friend or family member that you can talk to about your gambling problem can be helpful. This may be someone who does not gamble and can help you to identify and avoid triggers. They may also be able to provide support when you experience a relapse. It is also a good idea to find alternative ways of dealing with unpleasant feelings, such as exercise, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or hobbies.

One of the most significant risks associated with gambling is the potential for escalating debt and loss of income, which can result in homelessness and bankruptcy. In addition, losses can lead to increased stress and the development of unhealthy relationships. These can be particularly difficult for families who rely on gamblers for financial support, and who are then confronted with the loss of their livelihood.

If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling, it is important to talk to them and offer support. While it is not your responsibility to fix their problem, you can help them by talking about the impact of their gambling on themselves and others, suggesting they see a professional and setting limits for them, such as only gambling with money that has been set aside for bills. You might also consider helping them to set up a budget and direct debits to make it more difficult for them to spend money at gambling venues. You can also call Gambler’s Help together on 1800 858 858 for counselling and advice. It is not uncommon for a person to relapse after they have made an effort to stop gambling, but if they are willing to keep trying to overcome their problem, there are resources available to assist them. The most important thing is to be patient and support them as they work through their difficulties.