Although gambling has a large economic impact, few studies have investigated the social costs of the activity. These costs are invisible and largely unrecognized, but may eventually become visible at the individual, community, and society level. They include the economic costs of gambling and the costs related to tourism and infrastructure. Additionally, the social costs of gambling may result in reduced performance or decreased job creation. The social costs of gambling are primarily social rather than personal in nature.
Although common sense would argue against gambling, the evidence suggests that it may have beneficial effects on people. Gambling may be a way to relieve stress, strengthen social bonds, and reinforce a positive self-concept. Some studies have even shown that gambling can help people with a poorer socioeconomic status to stay optimistic despite difficult life circumstances. However, the research has not been clear enough to draw definitive conclusions about gambling’s positive effects. In addition, further research is needed to determine if gambling is a problem.
The amount of money wagered globally is approximately $10 trillion per year. It is estimated that illegal gambling is even higher. The most popular form of gambling worldwide is lottery betting. State-operated lotteries grew rapidly in Europe and the United States in the late 20th century. Organized football pools are found in almost every European country, many South American countries, and some African and Asian countries. Similarly, state-licensed gambling is also prevalent in most countries.
Although gambling has numerous negative effects on the economy, there are also positive impacts. It has increased employment in local economies by attracting visitors and generating additional revenue. The economic benefits of gambling may extend to the other sectors of the economy. Further, if a casino brings money to a community, it may improve other aspects of the community. Further, gambling can provide opportunities for higher salaries and improve employment. So, while the negative impacts of gambling on employment are minimal, the positive impact on the economy can be a major incentive for people to take up this activity.
Apart from causing individual economic harm to the individual, problem gambling can lead to significant social and interpersonal harm. For example, significant other relationships may end up in broken down, with one partner going without basic necessities like food and clothes. The financial ramifications of gambling can also have an adverse effect on children, including deprivation of necessary items and material needs. And, because of the widespread social stigma and isolation, it is important to understand the ramifications of gambling on the lives of spouses and significant others.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that, in 2006, more than 70% of American adults approved of gambling, but they remained concerned about the social harms and costs. However, there was a significant difference between the two categories of gambling: gambling for fun and bingo for cash prizes received less approval than casino gambling and off-track horse racing. Legalized sports betting got the lowest approval rating, with just 10% of respondents agreeing. These findings are not surprising considering the overwhelmingly positive attitudes toward gambling in the United States.