The Economic Impact of Gambling

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, involving risk and expectation of gain, on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. The bettor’s conscious acceptance of the risk and hope of gain determines the nature of the gamble. Some forms of gambling are legal and regulated, while others are illegal and unregulated.

For some people, gambling is an enjoyable pastime that brings in a modest income and helps support the local economy. However, for others, the activity can be harmful to their mental health, hurt family and friends relationships, impair job performance, lead to substance abuse or even result in homelessness. Vulnerability to problem gambling is higher among those with lower incomes, because they have more to lose and are likely to have less reliable sources of income. It is also higher among young people and men.

Various studies have attempted to assess the economic impact of gambling by using benefit-cost analysis, but most of these studies focus on gross effect (or total effects) estimates. They usually identify only the benefits and ignore costs, real versus transfer effects, tangible and intangible effects, and direct and indirect effects.

If a loved one is struggling with a gambling disorder, family therapy may help. Whether the problem is money management, an inability to stop gambling, or other issues, therapy can teach coping skills and provide moral support. Other options for coping with problem gambling include psychodynamic therapy, which explores unconscious processes that influence behavior; and group or family therapy, which can encourage a more stable household environment.