Public Health Approach to Assessing the Impacts of Gambling

February 24, 2024 By Admingalak Off


Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value in the hope of winning a prize. This can be as simple as putting money on a number at a racetrack or as complex as placing a wager with friends on a sports event. In some countries, gambling is legalized and promoted as an ethically neutral form of entertainment or even economic development. However, in other areas, gambling is still condemned by those who wish to impose moral standards on their communities.

Gambling takes place everywhere – from casinos to racetracks, from scratchcards to fruit machines. It can also take place in private settings where people bet against each other on games of chance, such as poker, bridge, or bingo. In these cases, the primary motivation is enjoyment and social interaction rather than money.

In addition, some people gamble to relieve boredom or stress. In these cases, the brain releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that creates a temporary high. Unfortunately, this feeling is short-lived and it can quickly turn into a downward spiral when the person continues to lose. There are healthier and safer ways to relieve boredom or stress, such as exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, or practicing relaxation techniques.

While the benefits of gambling can be short-lived, it can lead to a long-term addiction and serious financial problems. In addition to financial harms, gamblers may experience a range of emotional and physical health impacts that affect themselves and their significant others. These impacts are often overlooked in costing studies of gambling, and they can be difficult to quantify. However, they are important in evaluating the total costs and burdens of gambling.

A public health approach to assessing gambling impacts recognizes that many of these impacts occur at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society levels. While focusing on the personal and interpersonal impacts of gambling has not been a common practice in empirical research, this approach can help identify gaps in knowledge. For example, little research has focused on the effects of gambling on the families and significant others of problem gamblers, although these impacts can be substantial.

A public health perspective on assessing the impacts of gambling provides a framework that could be used to guide future research and policy decisions. In order to develop an accurate assessment of the costs and benefits of gambling, researchers should focus on all forms of gambling, both problem and nonproblematic, and consider all levels of impact – financial, labor, health and well-being, and quality of life. In particular, researchers should evaluate the impact of gambling on individuals as well as on family members and the wider community/society. This will ensure that the full extent of the cost and harm associated with gambling is accurately reflected in any analysis of its effects.