Across the world, gambling is a common form of leisure activity for most adults. Gambling essentially involves predicting the outcome of a chance game, attempting to win something of value, and taking a risk. People who predict the outcome correctly are winners, while those who predict the wrong outcome lose money. The earliest evidence of gambling comes from ancient China, where tiles were used for a rudimentary game of chance.
Regardless of the origins of gambling, it has been a popular leisure activity throughout most of history. In the early 20th century, laws against gambling were almost uniformly enacted in the United States. But in the late twentieth century, attitudes towards gambling began to soften. While some studies have tried to quantify the positive effects of gambling on gamblers, most have focused on the negative impacts.
Gambling impacts can be classified into three classes: economic, social and health. Depending on the source of gambling revenues, these impacts can be either positive or negative. The economic impacts of gambling can be easily measured and quantified, but the social and health impacts are more difficult to measure.
The economic impacts of gambling include changes in financial situations, as well as job gains and lost productivity. However, these changes can also be attributed to nonmonetary factors, such as changes in the gambler’s physical or emotional state. Some consumers use gambling as a way to cope with problems in their lives.
Some of these effects can be viewed at the individual or interpersonal level, while other effects can be seen at the societal or community level. These costs can be invisible, so it can be difficult to determine their precise magnitude. But some of these costs can become more apparent when the gambler’s family or friends seek help. Some of these costs include: petty theft from family members, relationship problems, emotional stress and illicit lending.
The social impact of gambling can be defined as any harm that occurs to someone, no matter how large or small. For example, pathological gambling increases the odds of dating violence, severe marital violence and homicide in the family. Although these harms can occur among nonproblem gamblers, they are often more prevalent in lower-income households.
The social impact of gambling is assessed through a public health approach. This means that it is evaluated against criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is a widely used tool to diagnose psychological problems, and a number of mental health professionals have developed their own criteria to identify problem gambling.
While some studies have attempted to quantify the benefits of gambling through consumer surplus, the true value of the consumer surplus is not known. Other studies have tried to measure the intangible social costs of gambling through disability weights, which are weights of a person’s health state on their quality of life. These weights are also used to assess the negative impact of gambling on the gamblers’ social networks.