The impact of gambling on society is evident on many levels: personal, interpersonal, and societal. The effects of gambling can be measured at multiple levels: financial, health, and labor, as well as societal. In addition, gambling’s effects on society may extend over generations and may be felt by many people close to a gambler. Some of the most significant impacts of gambling are described below. Listed below are some examples of the social, psychological, and economic consequences of gambling.
Problem gambling is a serious psychological issue. Not only does it lead to financial, emotional, and social consequences, it also affects the individual’s quality of life. Although the amount of money spent on gambling varies widely, the consequences are generally the same for anyone. Once a person’s gambling becomes a serious problem, they can’t seem to stop, and the negative impact it has on their lives is significant. Treatment for gambling addictions involves therapy, which may be a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and behavior therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy helps the individual reframe his or her thoughts about gambling, thereby changing the behaviour.
Gambling is a major commercial activity around the world. In 2009, the legal gambling industry was valued at $335 billion. The activity can take many forms, including gambling with valuable materials. For example, a person playing marbles might wager marbles on a game, while a Magic: The Gathering player may stake collectible game pieces, creating a meta-game about the collector’s edition. However, one must be careful when engaging in gambling: it’s important to be realistic and avoid overspending.
In addition to gambling, mental health issues can contribute to a person’s problem gambling. A mood disorder, such as depression, can trigger compulsive gambling, a condition that can persist even when gambling is no longer a part of a person’s life. Psychologists recommend that gambling addicts seek out treatment from a professional or a mental health provider. Besides therapy, the patient may benefit from medication and lifestyle changes that will help him or her cope with the problem.
In addition to gambling’s health effects, government regulation of gambling operations is also essential for the social stability of a society. The increased supply of gambling requires additional regulation, which translates to higher costs for governments. Additionally, the cost of problem gambling is borne largely by governments, which must allocate public resources to research and professional training in the field. Lastly, governments are the biggest cost bearers of gambling. In Australia, for example, the state government spent $52 million on gambling services in 2014-15.
In addition to the need for help, family members and friends can be a powerful support network for problem gamblers. These individuals can be encouraged to seek treatment and support one another. They may even feel embarrassed or ashamed if they have to resort to selling or stealing to make ends meet. It is important that family members and friends take the issue seriously, because the recovery process may not be a smooth one. The family’s relationship with the gambler may suffer underlying issues, which may require treatment as well.