Gambling is a common activity that involves risking something of value (a stake) on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can involve a game of chance, such as playing the lottery, betting on sports events or using pokies, or it may be a game of skill, such as poker or blackjack. There are three key elements of gambling: consideration, risk and a prize.
Pathological gambling is a serious problem that affects approximately 0.4% to 1.6% of the population. It starts in adolescence or young adulthood and can continue for several years. PG is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of behavior. It is associated with a variety of consequences, including increased rates of depression, family and marital problems, job loss and addictions to drugs or alcohol. The risk of a person developing a PG is greater for females than males, and it is higher for people who start gambling at an earlier age.
Traditionally, studies of gambling have focused on the economic costs and benefits of the activity. However, social impacts can also be significant, and these are less well-understood. These impacts can be divided into personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels. Personal impacts are felt by gamblers themselves, and include things like time spent on gambling, the opportunity cost of other activities that could have been done with this time, and the emotional costs of losing money.
Interpersonal and societal/community impacts are felt by everyone affected by the gambler, and include things such as crime rate, employment and education levels, family life, social relationships and community cohesion. These impacts are not as well-understood as the financial ones and may be more difficult to quantify.
In order to identify these impacts, a framework is needed that can be used to assess the impact of gambling on individuals and society at large. This framework can be used to evaluate different gambling policies and compare the costs and benefits. It can also be used to estimate the effect of a new product or service on the gambler’s quality of life, and it can help to determine whether there is a positive or negative impact. This approach is called a ‘public health’ method of evaluating gambling impacts. It is a new way of looking at gambling and its effects that can be applied to all types of gambling, including online gaming. The results of this method are promising and have the potential to lead to improved gambling policies.