The Social Impact of Gambling


Gambling involves placing something of value, usually money, on a random event in the hope of winning a prize. Unlike most other forms of recreation, it is not primarily social or communal. It is a personal activity, often carried out alone or with friends. It is also often secretive and characterized by the use of sex symbols, alcohol, drugs and other addictive substances.

Many states run a state lottery or other gambling operations to raise funds for state-level programs such as education, health care and infrastructure projects. However, this has raised moral questions about state-sponsored gambling in that the revenues are used for government activities rather than redirected to the community.

The majority of people who gamble do so responsibly and are not addicted. However, 2 million U.S adults (1%) would be considered to have a gambling problem in a given year. Those affected by problem gambling often struggle to deal with the emotional, physical and financial consequences of their gambling behavior.

A societal impact of gambling involves the cost of addiction and its impacts on a gambler’s family, friends and significant others. It also includes the negative effects on communities and society as a whole. These are harder to quantify than monetary costs and benefits, but can be assessed using health-related quality of life weights, known as Disability Weights (DW) or intangible costs. They can also be calculated using a more qualitative approach. In addition, DWs can be applied to calculate the social and interpersonal impacts of gambling.