The Impacts of Gambling


Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the intention to win money or other items of value. While many people enjoy gambling for entertainment, for some it becomes a serious problem that causes harm to their lives and the lives of those close to them. Despite the fact that four in five Americans say they have gambled, most of them do not seek help for their gambling addiction.

Most people who gamble do so for pleasure and to escape boredom or stress. The thrill of winning and the ability to meet people in a social setting are important motivators. For some, however, gambling can become a problem when they are hooked on the dopamine that is released when they achieve a positive result. Moreover, they can become convinced that they can gain control over gambling by learning a pattern, for example, throwing the dice in a particular way or sitting in a specific spot that is believed to be lucky.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralized using a model where benefits and costs are categorized into three classes, which manifest on personal, interpersonal, and community/societal levels. Financial impacts, such as gambling revenues, affect society as a whole while labor and health/well-being impacts, which are mostly internal to the gambler, affect him/her and the people around him/her. The latter are measurable by means of disability weights (DW) that are used to discover non-monetary intangible social costs and benefits.

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