The Economic Impact of Gambling



Gambling is wagering something of value on an uncertain event, where the outcome is not determined by skill or effort. The term is often applied to casino gambling, but it may also include activities such as fantasy sports leagues, scratch tickets, online poker and DIY investing. Some people use gambling to socialize, while others become addicted to it and run up debts that threaten their financial security.

The economic impact of gambling has been extensively studied, although most studies focus on a single aspect and do not claim to provide a balanced perspective of the issue. Gross impact studies typically emphasize the identification of benefits and do not attempt to identify costs (Ricardo, 1998). They tend to overlook such important considerations as expenditure substitution effects and geographic scope, and they frequently fail to recognize that gains in per capita income cannot always be attributed to gambling (Ison, 1995a).

While many people enjoy the entertainment value of gambling, 20 percent overindulge and develop addictions. These people incur debts that threaten their financial stability and cause serious problems for themselves and their families. The good news is that most gamblers can control their gambling habits if they are willing to seek help.

While a gambling problem can affect any age group, young adults are especially vulnerable. This is because they are still developing and their brains are not yet fully matured, and they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. A person convicted of a misdemeanor gambling offense can face up to a year in jail. A felony conviction could result in years in prison and substantial fines.