What is Gambling?

Gambling involves placing something of value, typically money, at risk in an event or game involving chance. Gambling includes lotteries, scratchcards, fruit machines, racecourse betting, sports events, dice cards bingo roulett. If successful in winning your bet you receive your prize! Gambling can have devastating repercussions for individuals, families and communities in many ways: debt accumulation, alcohol or drug dependency, gambling-related mental health conditions or even suicide are just a few effects that it can bring upon. Gambling can negatively impact relationships with friends and family as well as legal troubles, but also be highly addictive and difficult to stop. There are organizations which provide help and support for people who have gambling problems themselves or who are concerned about gambling in others’ lives; they offer advice, guidance or referral to specialist services as needed.

Gambling can be an entertaining pastime for many people, yet most who participate do it responsibly. While some individuals may become addicted, most are able to manage their urges and avoid serious harm from gambling.

An individual with a gambling problem is defined as someone who: cannot control how much they gamble; lies about it to family, therapists, or others about it; continues gambling even after having lost significant sums (known as “chasing losses”) without seeking assistance (forgery theft embezzlement etc); jeopardized their job or educational opportunity because of it; committed crimes or committed illegal acts with the intent to finance gambling (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Gambling makes an important economic contribution across many nations around the globe and employs thousands of individuals. Furthermore, it acts as a social activity which brings many together; further benefits of gambling may include increased socialization, mental development and skill improvement.

Even with all its positives, gambling does have its share of drawbacks. A significant portion of bankruptcies is caused by gambling while problem gambling costs can be substantial. While research on positive effects is relatively extensive, more objective and comprehensive analyses on economic costs associated with problem gambling is still needed in order to estimate externality costs more accurately.