Gambling occurs when people wager something of value, usually money, in the hope that they will win a prize. It may take place in casinos, racetracks, or on the Internet. In most countries, gambling is legal and regulated. However, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of gambling before you participate. The long-term effects of gambling can have a profound effect on the lives of individuals and their families. Moreover, the gambling industry generates significant tax revenues for local governments, which can be used to support essential community services and infrastructure. In addition, the economic benefits of gambling can help to reduce poverty in the surrounding communities.
Some gamblers are addicted to the activity and cannot control their spending. This is called pathological gambling. It is considered a serious mental illness and can affect a person’s ability to work or study, interfere with relationships and cause family breakdowns. It can also lead to severe debt and even homelessness. Pathological gambling is now included in the psychiatric manual of disorders as an impulse control disorder, a category that includes kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair pulling).
It is known that the feeling of pleasure that comes from winning a bet is a result of the human body producing adrenalin and endorphins, which make players feel happy. However, despite this positive impact, some players are still not satisfied with the experience. This is mainly because they cannot find the right balance between their spending and winning. Consequently, some gamblers are left with a negative financial situation and end up sacrificing their health.
Many studies on the impacts of gambling focus on costs and benefits at the individual level, such as the personal cost to the gambler or his/her significant others. The social/community level impacts, which affect the gamblers’ families and their friends and coworkers, have been less studied. However, the use of quality-of-life weights to assess a gambler’s social costs may help to discover these impacts.
The positive and negative impacts of gambling are complex. Although the gambling industry has contributed to some areas’ development, it has also had an adverse impact on many other areas. To minimize its negative effects, it is necessary to develop a system for monitoring the risks of gambling and regulating the activities of gambling companies. To do so, a public health perspective is needed. The purpose of this article is to review complementing and contrasting views on the impacts of gambling, and to propose a conceptual model that incorporates a public health approach to understanding the consequences of the activity. The model consists of the three levels of impacts: personal, interpersonal and society/community. This approach allows for the identification of both positive and negative consequences of gambling, and provides a framework to determine the best approaches to the issue.