The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling

Gambling involves risking something of value on the outcome of a game of chance or an uncertain event with awareness of the risk and in hope of winning. It ranges from the purchase of lottery tickets by people with little income to the sophisticated casino gambling of wealthy people. Gambling is a widespread activity that occurs in places like casinos, racetracks, and on the internet. It can also happen in family homes, churches, gas stations and at sporting events.

While some people may view gambling as a fun and entertaining pastime, for others it can become a serious problem that affects their family and friends. For example, excessive gambling can lead to a lack of financial stability and even bankruptcy. Some individuals have a genetic or psychological susceptibility to develop problems with gambling, and the risk increases over time. In addition, the pleasure gained from gambling is often false and temporary.

A person’s brain responds to gambling in the same way as it does when a person takes drugs, and repeated exposure to the risk of losing causes changes in the way the brain sends chemical messages. As a result, some people can develop pathological gambling which was officially recognised as a disorder in 2013, and is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a substance-related and addictive disorder.

Gambling has many positive social and economic impacts, and these benefits can be realised at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society level. However, these positive impacts are often overlooked because the focus is on the external costs and benefits that are easily quantifiable.

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