Public Health Impact of Gambling

Gambling involves placing something of value (money or something else of importance) on a random event, where chances are not known. The event could be a football match, a scratchcard, or even a game of chance on a casino floor. In gambling, the prize is determined by a combination of factors including the odds, which are the likelihood that you will win, and your own personal risk tolerance.

While some people gamble for the excitement and the possibility of winning big, others gamble as a form of addiction and as a way to distract themselves from other problems. This is known as compulsive gambling and is a real problem for some people. Often, the person in this position will find themselves in financial crisis and needing help to address this issue. If you’re worried about your own or someone you know’s gambling habits, talk to a debt advisor at StepChange. They can offer free, confidential advice and help.

Supporters of gambling argue that it is a viable tool for economic development and that restrictions simply divert tourists and business to illegal gambling operations. Opponents of gambling point to the social ills caused by problem gambling and say that society pays for the costs associated with the activity – these include lost productivity, psychological counseling, and family disintegration. Many studies of gambling impact have focused on quantifying the monetary costs of problem gambling, but these are only the tip of the iceberg. Using a public health approach, examining all impacts of gambling, both negative and positive, would provide more complete insight into the effects of gambling on society.