Gambling is a game of chance in which two or more people agree to bet on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can take many forms, from a football match to a scratchcard. In order to win a prize, the person who wins must match the ‘odds’ set by the betting company.
There is a range of negative consequences for people who gamble, including harming their health and relationships, debt problems and even thoughts of suicide. However, there are also some positive effects of gambling.
Benefits of gambling are difficult to measure because they vary in type and magnitude across time, place, and types of gambling. Moreover, they depend on many factors such as the value of the gambler’s investment, and whether the benefits are intangible or tangible.
Social costs of gambling can also be hard to measure because they vary significantly in nature and scope. They can include expenditure substitution effects, loss of employment opportunities, and the effect on community development (Goodman, 1994; Grinols, 1995).
Economic impacts of gambling are usually reported in the form of gross impact studies. These studies do not provide a balanced perspective of the effects of gambling and are generally uninformed about the various underlying costs and benefits.
Fortunately, more balanced measurement studies are becoming available. These studies, although still in their early stages, can provide a more accurate assessment of the economic effects of gambling. They are based on a fundamental principle of benefit-cost analysis, which requires that a comprehensive assessment of the economic and social effects of a given activity be made in the context of the overall impact of that activity on society.