While most studies of gambling focus on the economic costs and benefits of the activity, little attention has been given to its social effects. These impacts have been defined by researchers like Williams et al. as “costs to society that are social rather than personal.”
External impacts of gambling can be measured on three levels: individual, interpersonal, and community. These effects range from financial to labor and health and well-being. They can also impact entire communities and generations. External impacts of gambling can also include the negative effects on the gambler. This is because gambling impacts not only affect the person themselves, but also their family, friends, and work colleagues. Consequently, gambling has a large impact on people’s lives and can cause bankruptcy and homelessness.
Although the economic costs of gambling can be quantified, the social costs of problem gambling are often ignored. The social costs of problem gambling have been disproportionately examined in studies of alcohol and drugs, which ignore the positive effects of gambling. Using the social costs of gambling, we can determine how much society loses by limiting the negative effects of gambling on individuals and communities. Moreover, the economic costs of gambling can also be measured in terms of the benefits that nongamblers receive.
The effects of gambling on society are often positive or negative. They depend on factors such as the environment in which gambling takes place, the type of gambling games offered, the length of gambling operations, and the effectiveness of a particular gambling policy. There are several main purposes of impact studies of gambling, including comparing the various health effects, comparing them to the impacts of alcohol, and making policy decisions. A public health approach can provide policymakers with valuable information regarding the economic, social, and personal impacts of gambling.