The Impacts of Gambling
Gambling is the staking of something of value, such as money or possessions, on an uncertain event that has some degree of randomness and with the intention of winning a prize. The act of gambling is associated with arousal, which is manifested in physiological reactions such as an increase in heart rate and elevated cortisol levels. Environmental cues, such as flashing lights or the chiming of coins, can be used to arouse and condition gambling behaviour (Meyer & Blaszczynski 2002). Gambling is considered a recreational activity, but it can also serve as a means to alleviate boredom or low mood. For many people, it provides a sense of thrill and adventure and is a source of fun and pleasure. In some cases, it can become a problem and result in addiction. There is a wide range of research into the causes and effects of gambling, from cognitive approaches that identify erroneous beliefs to psychobiological studies of pathological gamblers that show dysregulation in brain areas involved in reward and emotion, particularly in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and striatum, as well as changes in dopamine neurotransmission.
There are numerous impacts of gambling, from the personal to the societal and economic. In the personal sphere, gambling can lead to financial problems, debt, and bankruptcy, impacting not only the gambler but also their family members, coworkers, and friends. In addition, gambling can cause social problems, such as increased demand for social services and negative effects on the economy. In a public health perspective, gambling can affect quality of life, and this can be measured using disability weights, which measure the burden on an individual’s health-related quality of life.
The majority of the research into gambling is focused on its impacts on the individual, including their financial, labour, and health and wellbeing, as well as behavioural and psychological effects. However, there is a growing interest in exploring gambling impacts at the interpersonal and community/societal level, including intangible effects such as happiness, enjoyment, and social connections.
The main negative impacts of gambling include addiction, monetary loss, and the effect on one’s family, colleagues, and children. In terms of the latter, studies have shown that gambling can cause a number of emotional and relationship problems, including poor communication skills, arguments, depression, anxiety, and even divorce. Moreover, it has been found that a person’s attitude towards gambling can change over time. For example, a person may start to lie about how much they spend or even hide their betting activities from others.