The Economic, Social, and Environmental Costs of Gambling


The economic, social, and environmental costs of gambling are generally ignored by researchers. Typically, studies focus on the effects of gambling on an individual’s personal finances. However, the costs and benefits of gambling can also extend beyond individuals and to communities. They can be large or small and range across generations. To determine the true costs and benefits of gambling, researchers need to consider many factors, including the extent to which each of these factors affects society. Here are some important considerations when considering the impacts of gambling on society and the environment.

Social settings are a key component of gambling motivation. The social settings at gambling venues provide a context in which consumers can engage in social interactions. Moreover, some consumers use gambling to escape problems that inhibit their happiness and wellbeing. Such consumers are known as problem gamblers. In addition to social effects, gambling can be an effective tool to self-soothe feelings of boredom and help them overcome unpleasant emotions. So, it’s important to make friends outside of gambling venues and volunteer for a worthy cause.

Despite the benefits of gambling, economic and social cost-benefit analyses have tended to ignore its positive impacts. Using the cost of illness approach has been the primary method of research for public policy and health impacts of gambling, but it is often insufficient in addressing the positive side of the equation. Moreover, it is not uncommon to find that harmful effects of gambling affect nongamblers, and that the research literature tends to focus on harmful impacts of gambling.