The impacts of gambling are numerous and manifest themselves at a variety of levels – personal, interpersonal, and societal. Financial impacts include the revenues generated from gambling, the costs of infrastructure and other related industries, and the overall changes in value and financial situations of people who participate. Other impacts include labor and health costs, including physical health and psychological well-being. The personal, interpersonal, and societal costs of gambling are generally not known and are mostly invisible.
The negative impacts of gambling include crime and increased costs to the law enforcement. The economic impact of problem gambling has been reported in the recreational/amusement sector, the retail industry, and small businesses. It has been estimated that approximately $1 billion of extra police costs are incurred annually as a result of problem gambling. Further, the costs of social care associated with problem gambling are estimated to be between $51 and $243 million annually. Despite these negative effects, gambling has many benefits, including reducing the likelihood of crime.
Financial problems may also affect the significant other. Often, partners are forced to make impossible financial decisions, including not being able to afford the essential household items. They may lose their jobs and utilities, and may become unable to pay for medication or treatment. Significant others may become victims of a partner’s problem gambling if the financial situation deteriorates. Even children may become victims of the gambling problem, experiencing deprivation of necessities, and insecurity of material needs.
Once an individual has realized that they have a gambling problem, it is important to seek help. The best treatment for gambling addiction is a long-term commitment to abstaining from the activity. In addition to therapy, problem gamblers should build a strong support system. Family members and friends should be there for them, and individuals should also reach out to other people outside of the addiction. They should also attend educational classes, volunteer for nonprofit organizations, and join peer support groups. A 12-step recovery program called Gamblers Anonymous is designed for people who have a gambling problem and is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. The program requires a sponsor to be a former gambler.
Gambling can be a self-soothing activity, an escape from everyday life, or a way to socialize. While gambling is not good for your overall health, it can be an effective distraction from boredom or unpleasant emotions. Other activities, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, and practicing relaxation techniques, can help you manage boredom and reduce your gambling habits. There are no definitive answers for the root causes of gambling but it is important to understand the causes and consequences of problem gambling.
Most states ban or heavily regulate gambling. In addition, many jurisdictions license vendors, which encourage gambling tourism and illegal gambling in prohibited areas. Government involvement has led to a close relationship between governments and gaming organizations. Additionally, legal gambling brings significant government revenue. This close relationship has made gambling an important source of revenue for many jurisdictions. So, the next time you’re out for a game, make sure to consult with your local gaming board and make your decision accordingly.