Gambling is a type of activity where individuals risk something of value, usually money or property, on a random event with the hope of winning a prize. It is a popular pastime that has many benefits including providing entertainment, boosting local economies and raising taxes for governments. However, it also has negative impacts on gamblers and their significant others. In addition, it can lead to psychological and psychiatric disorders. These problems can include an inability to control gambling behavior, a preoccupation with gambling, and withdrawal from other activities as a result of gambling addiction. The underlying causes of this addiction are complex and vary depending on the individual, but can include emotional distress, family history, biological factors and past traumas.
A number of studies have examined the negative effects of gambling, but fewer have looked at the positive side. In a health-oriented approach, gambling impact studies should incorporate both costs and benefits. These are defined as follows:
Costs and benefits of gambling can be structuralized using a model, with impacts categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health and well-being. Financial impacts are changes in income and wealth, while labor impacts are those that affect a person’s work, such as a loss of job performance, or the impact on a person’s social network. The last category is known as health and well-being impacts and is a combination of physical, mental and social components.
This conceptual model can be used to locate and describe existing research on the impacts of gambling, enabling researchers and policymakers to locate gaps in knowledge and identify opportunities for future research. The model can also assist in formulating public policies on gambling, based on the balance of benefits and costs.
Negative effects of gambling are mostly a result of the inability to control gambling behaviour. This can include an inability to set limits on money or time spent on gambling, hiding evidence of gambling and lying to others about the extent of their participation in this activity. Moreover, some people may experience guilt or shame over the amount of time and money they spend on gambling, leading to depression. Lastly, some people can become addicted to gambling as they try to cope with unpleasant emotions or relieve boredom.
A common way to reduce these negative consequences is through counseling and treatment for gambling addiction. In some cases, this can involve cognitive-behavior therapy that teaches patients to confront irrational beliefs about gambling, such as the belief that a string of losses will be offset by a big win. In other cases, it involves learning healthier ways to cope with unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. In some cases, a physician may prescribe medication to manage the symptoms of gambling addiction. These medications can help to decrease cravings for gambling and alleviate the anxiety associated with these behaviors. They can also help to improve sleep, increase energy and reduce the desire for unhealthy food and drink.