The Economic Impact of Gambling


Gambling is the risking of something of value (a bet) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance and with the hope of gaining something of greater value. This activity can take many forms, from the slot machines at a casino to playing bingo or buying lottery or scratch tickets. Generally, people consider gambling to be fun and an exciting pastime when it is done responsibly and within the limits of a budget.

The primary benefits of gambling are the possibility of winning money and the ability to socialize with friends. It is important to remember, however, that compulsive gambling can result in serious health and family problems and that there are ways to get help.

For example, if you have trouble controlling your urges to gamble, seek out the support of friends and family, and sign up for an addiction treatment program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on a 12-step recovery model. In addition, it is important to get a check-up and treatment for any mood disorders that may be contributing to the problem.

Typical gross impact studies focus on the identification and estimation of gambling’s economic benefits, while paying relatively little attention to its costs. For example, these studies usually ignore externality costs such as criminal justice system costs and costs associated with lost productivity due to gambling-related indebtedness. They also tend to ignore expenditure substitution effects. These limitations are likely to be significant in estimating the net economic impacts of gambling.