Gambling and Its Impacts

The term “gambling” is generally used to describe any activity where people place something of value (usually money) on a game of chance or skill, and hope to win. This might include scratchcards, fruit machines, dice games and betting with friends or strangers. For some people, gambling is an enjoyable way to relax and socialize. It’s also a form of entertainment that can give them the feeling of winning and being excited, especially when they’re on a streak. However, for some it becomes a problem when they start to lose more than they win and it turns into an addiction.

For some, gambling is seen as a low risk, high reward entertainment choice and the media promotes this image. In addition, for some individuals who may be facing financial problems, boredom, depression, grief or other life challenges, gambling offers a chance to escape their troubles and focus on the present. For others, gambling provides an outlet for their curiosity and the desire to learn.

Gambling has positive and negative impacts at the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig. 1). Personal impacts affect gamblers and those close to them, such as family members, work colleagues and neighbours. Interpersonal and community/society level impacts involve those who are not gamblers but may be negatively affected by their gambling behaviour, such as increased debt, financial strain, poor performance at work or school and even homelessness. These impacts are influenced by the person’s personality, their relationship with gambling and the external factors that influence their behaviour.