How Gambling Affects Everyone

Gambling is risking something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance with the hope of gaining something of value. While most people think of slot machines and casinos when they hear the word gambling, many activities also are forms of gambling such as playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets, betting on sports events or office pools, and even online fantasy games.

Gambling affects everyone from gamblers to their families, friends and the community/society in a variety of ways. These impacts can be observed at the personal, interpersonal and community/societal levels (Fig 1). They include costs and benefits of gambling. Costs can be financial, such as changes in the financial status of gamblers, or economic, such as the effect of gambling on other businesses or the economic growth of a region. Benefits can include social and health/well-being improvements, such as increased leisure time or reduced stress and depression.

The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is acknowledging that there is a problem. This can be hard, especially if you have lost a lot of money or hurt your relationships with family and friends. There are a number of services available that provide support, assistance and counselling for those with gambling problems, including residential treatment programs and self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can help yourself by removing temptations, getting rid of credit cards and other financial assets, closing online accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you at all times. You can also replace the urge to gamble with other activities such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, reading a book or taking up a new hobby.