The Social Impact of Gambling
Gambling has several effects on the individual, interpersonal relationships, and society. The impacts are both positive and negative, and are often multi-faceted. They can include the financial costs of gambling and the health and well-being of people involved in gambling. These effects can last for years, even changing the trajectory of the lives of entire generations.
The social impact of gambling has been largely overlooked in studies. Most have analyzed the economic costs and benefits of gambling, and neglected the social effects of gambling. However, Williams et al. and Walker and Barnett have defined social costs as harm done to another person or society rather than to oneself. Moreover, they define social costs as the costs that go beyond the personal financial impact of gambling.
Gambling has been around for centuries in the United States, but it has been suppressed in some areas for almost as long. For example, in the early 20th century, gambling was outlawed almost everywhere in the U.S. This led to the development of the mafia and other criminal organizations. But attitudes toward gambling have gradually changed in recent decades. In the United States, most gambling offenses are minor misdemeanors.
The social effects of gambling vary, and they depend on several factors, including availability of gambling, the source of revenue, and the effectiveness of gambling policies. Various studies of gambling impact have been conducted to compare different policies, and to evaluate which ones will reduce the costs and increase the benefits the most. A public health approach to gambling impact assessments aims to assess social effects of gambling across the severity spectrum.
Using a public health approach allows for a more balanced analysis of the harms of gambling. While this approach emphasizes problems related to pathological gambling, it also acknowledges the benefits of gambling, such as increased societal well-being and lower crime rates. As a result, the impact of gambling on society is often underestimated.