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The Social Impacts of Gambling

Gambling is an activity that involves risking something of value in a game of chance with the intent to win a prize. It has been characterized by several features, including recreational interest, impaired judgment and cognitive distortions, poor mathematical skills, and mental illness. In 2013, pathological gambling was added to the section on Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

People gamble for many reasons, from pure fun to making money. However, some gamble to escape reality or as a way of coping with stress and anxiety. Others may do it for a variety of other reasons, such as believing they can control the outcome of the game by throwing a dice a certain way or wearing a lucky item of clothing. In addition, some people believe that gambling can help them feel more confident or self-confident.

Gambling has both negative and positive impacts on the gamblers as well as their significant others and society/community. These impacts can be at the personal, interpersonal, and community/societal levels and have long-term effects that can create a change in life course or even pass on between generations. Most studies have primarily focused on the negative impacts and neglect the positive ones. To improve the quality of these studies, it is recommended that they consider a wider scope of gambling impacts and apply health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights (also known as disability weights). This will help identify the intangible social costs of gambling and increase the accuracy of economic costing.