Though the social benefits of gambling are widely documented, fewer studies have examined the negative consequences of the activity. There are many types of impacts associated with gambling, including economic and social, which are manifested on a personal, interpersonal, and societal level. Economic impacts are manifested in the forms of revenue, infrastructure cost, changes in value, and financial situations, which contribute to overall economic activity. Social costs of gambling are revealed by the physical and psychological well-being of individuals and their social networks.
Gambling impacts can be positive or negative, and depend on the environment, game, length of availability, and the effectiveness of government policy. Impact studies on gambling have several purposes, ranging from comparing different types of health effects to determining the effectiveness of gambling policies. Other types of gambling studies are conducted to examine the effects of alcohol on society. These studies can also serve as a guide for government officials when making policy decisions regarding the impact of alcohol on society.
Gambling impacts can be quantified and measured using a conceptual model. These impacts can be positive and negative, and range from individual to societal or communal impacts. The impacts of gambling can be seen on the personal, interpersonal, and societal level, and can influence a person’s entire life course and generations. Key methodological challenges are associated with identifying the impact of gambling on individuals and communities. So, how can we determine whether gambling impacts are positive or negative?
A public health approach to gambling impacts recognizes both the positive and negative aspects of the activity. The negative effects associated with gambling are often underestimated because studies have focused on problem gambling and ignored other harms associated with the activity. In addition, research on gambling affects nongamblers as well. Therefore, a balanced evidence base is necessary to inform public policies that will minimize the harms associated with the activity. The public health impact of gambling can serve as a starting point for such policies.
Despite its risks and benefits, most people will indulge in a game of chance at some point in their lives. However, the key to gambling responsibly is to understand the odds of winning and losing and know when to quit. Ultimately, responsible gambling is about knowing when and where to stop. When to stop is the key to making a difference in your life. And don’t forget, you can always return to the game, just don’t be complacent!