The Hidden Costs and Benefits of Gambling


Gambling is an activity where people wager something of value (money, services, or property) on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It is also a form of entertainment and can be done for fun or as a way to socialize with others. Gambling can be a source of income and is an important industry in many countries. It can also be a way to escape the realities of everyday life.

Despite the positive effects of gambling, it can also have negative consequences for the gambler and their families. Among these are decreased quality of life, strained family relationships, problems with work and studies, increased debt, suicide, or even homelessness. Problem gambling can also lead to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. For these reasons, it is important for families and friends of a person who has a gambling disorder to seek help.

In the past, studies on gambling have focused mainly on its economic impacts, since these are quite quantifiable and can be easily measured. However, this approach excludes the many social impacts that are not as easy to measure or quantify. In order to do so, a holistic approach is needed, as advocated by Walker [32]. This can include using health-related quality of life weights, known as disability weights, which are designed to measure intangible harms and benefits of an activity on the individual. These can be used to discover the hidden costs and benefits of gambling at personal, interpersonal, and community/societal level.