The Effects of Gambling From a Public Health Perspective

Gambling News Apr 5, 2024

Gambling is an activity in which people place something of value on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value. This is a popular leisure time activity in most countries. It has a wide range of positive and negative impacts on the gambler, his/her significant others, and society. While gambling revenues can benefit communities, they also increase the cost of goods and services and may have adverse health outcomes. These negative impacts are best studied using a public health approach and can help researchers and policymakers compare the costs and benefits of different gambling policies.

Most of the literature on gambling has focused on its economic impact, primarily its effects on individuals, businesses and societies. However, little attention has been given to its social and psychological impacts. Considering the seriousness of gambling addiction and its negative impact on gamblers, their significant others, and their families, a more comprehensive approach is needed. This article aims to review complementary and contrasting views on the positive and negative impacts of gambling, and introduces a conceptual model for examining gambling’s effects from a public health perspective.

Positive effects of gambling

Gambling can provide social and psychological benefits for individuals, especially those who have a low socioeconomic status. For example, gambling provides an opportunity for a person to socialize and improve his/her mental development, as well as gain skills that can be used later in life. In addition, gambling is a source of income for those who are in need of extra cash.

Moreover, it can also help reduce the crime rate in certain regions. This is because gambling occupies idlers who might otherwise engage in illegal activities like assault, burglary, robberies, drug peddling etc. This is why gambling is referred to as a ‘safe alternative’ to criminal activities.

Negative effects of gambling

Many of the negative effects of gambling are related to pathological gambling, which is a disorder characterized by excessive and compulsive gambling behavior. It is considered an addiction akin to substance addiction and was recently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is usually triggered by a combination of factors, including genetic or psychological dispositions, stressful life events, and environmental influences.

Those with a gambling addiction should seek professional treatment. In addition, they should try to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness. These include exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up new hobbies. In addition, they should consider joining a support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Finally, they should seek help from their family members and/or therapists. These steps will enable them to recover from their gambling problems. In the long run, they will enjoy greater happiness and health. By reducing the amount of money they spend on gambling, they will have more to devote to other aspects of their lives. Moreover, they will be able to help their significant others and the wider community.

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