The Health and Wellbeing Effects of Gambling

Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event in the hope of winning another item of value. The activity can take many forms, including gambling on games of chance such as fruit machines, poker and blackjack; betting on sports events such as football accumulators, horse races or lottery results; and other activities such as scratchcards. Gambling can also involve placing bets with friends on non-monetary items such as marbles or the collectible game pieces used in games such as Magic: The Gathering or Pogs.

Gamblers can be exposed to a wide range of risks when participating in this type of activity, and these risks can vary depending on the individual’s age, gender, financial status and psychological profile. While the majority of people who gamble do so responsibly, there are those who become addicted to gambling. These individuals often experience severe social, family and work problems as a result of their addiction. Moreover, the effects of this behaviour can lead to a variety of health-related complications.

Despite its negative impact, there are some positive aspects of gambling that can enhance the health and wellbeing of some people, particularly among older adults. For instance, it was found that recreational gamblers in lower socioeconomic groups reported better physical and mental health functioning than those who do not participate in gambling [94].

In addition, the act of gambling can relieve stress, provide a source of entertainment, and give a person a sense of achievement. Furthermore, it can help people maintain a positive outlook in the face of life’s challenges and provide them with a sense of control over their lives. The positive impact of gambling can be attributed to the fact that it increases a person’s self-esteem and reinforces optimism.

Negative consequences of gambling are associated with a number of factors, including impaired mathematical skills, poor judgment, cognitive distortions, and mental illness. People who develop a gambling problem may have reduced prefrontal cortex activation, which can affect their ability to control impulses and make decisions. Consequently, they may have less control over their spending and more difficulty with money management.

Besides the direct effects on the gambler, there are indirect impacts that can have a more significant effect on society. These include increased taxes, increased labor costs, decreased consumer spending, and the loss of recreational/amusement facilities. Indirect effects can also have long-term implications for the gambler and his/her significant others. Nevertheless, studies of the negative impacts of gambling have largely focused on the monetary aspects, while the interpersonal and community/society levels have received much less attention. This is due to the fact that these impacts are not easily measured and can be difficult to calculate. Nonetheless, they are important to consider when considering the economic benefits and costs of gambling. Moreover, they are crucial when assessing the impact of gambling on different populations.