The Social Costs of Gambling


Most studies on gambling have only looked at the economic costs of gambling and its benefits to society. This is a major oversight, and a lack of a defined definition of social costs should be remedied. Walker and Barnett define social costs as those that affect no one but may cause harm to another. This distinction is essential to understanding the extent of gambling’s social impact. To quantify the social cost of gambling, we need to consider the broader social implications of the activity.

Addiction to gambling

There are many ways to recognize signs of addiction to gambling. Symptoms of gambling addiction include complacency, impulsive behavior, and emotional euphoria. Addiction is a disease of the brain, and the desire to stop using it is essential. While the compulsion to gamble is not always easy to control, it is essential that a person who has an addiction to gambling is determined to find a cure for it.

Treatment for an addiction to gambling should be comprehensive and multidisciplinary. Often, people with addiction problems do not seek treatment until major problems arise. The key to recovery is recognizing the problem and finding a treatment program that is specifically tailored to the individual. An individual must also be aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition to begin the treatment process. Intensive outpatient programs are recommended for those with very severe gambling addiction and no other commitments.

Impact of problem gambling on society

Many of the costs associated with problem gambling are non-monetary and invisible, and may not be directly seen by the gambler. These costs may become visible at the society and community level as the amount of money spent is greater than the value of the lost money. The economic costs of problem gambling are also often overlooked, and the community/society cost can be either beneficial or detrimental to the entire society. Several studies have examined the costs of gambling and the impact on various areas of society.

A recent study found that problem gamblers tend to have higher body mass indexes, and are more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, including smoking and excessive television viewing. Substance use disorders, such as alcohol use disorders and gambling, often co-occur with problem gambling. Between 28 and 17 percent of problem gamblers have a substance-use disorder. These outcomes are alarming, especially when considering that problem gambling and substance use disorders are highly associated.

Treatment options for problem gamblers

A wide range of treatment options are available for problem gamblers. Generally, problem gamblers report financial and emotional reasons for quitting the gambling habit. Problem gamblers who have successfully quit gambling did not have a higher frequency of precipitating life events, but rather experienced an increase in positive and negative life events. Problem gamblers with more severe problems were more likely to receive treatment than those who did not. Self-help involvement was the most common form of treatment for problem gamblers. However, many gamblers who are not fully resolved are able to recover without the intervention of any type of treatment.

Among the treatments available for problem gamblers, an all-female therapy group has been shown to be highly effective. Gender-responsive treatments are essential components of addiction treatment, but few studies have explored their use. While both genders engage in problem gambling activities, women are more likely to do so as a way of escaping boredom and aversion rather than for the thrill of the game. Consequently, gender-specific treatments are not common.

Impact of Internet-based gambling

The ease of access to Internet-based gambling is a concern for state and federal governments. Unlike traditional casino gambling, Internet gambling allows users to wager money without leaving their homes. Consequently, state and federal governments fear that the ease of Internet gambling will hamper their ability to regulate their citizens’ behavior. Nevertheless, these concerns have been overshadowed by the positive benefits that Internet gambling has to offer. Here are some of the main advantages of Internet-based gambling.

Multiple account holders were significantly more likely to be active Internet gamblers than single account holders. They were also more likely to engage in sports betting, horse or dog race betting, and poker. Further, those with multiple accounts were significantly more likely to have gambling problems than those without an account. They also chose Internet-based operators based on price, number of games, payout rates, and game experience. They cited legality and consumer protection features as important factors when choosing an operator.