Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event that has the potential to produce a prize. This can include anything from a scratchcard to a horse race or even a football match. There is a long history of people making a living from gambling, either honestly or dishonestly, and there has also been a long history of gambling being prohibited in many countries.

Problem gamblers often experience significant psychological and emotional harm, with some even contemplating suicide – so if you are struggling with gambling issues it is important to seek help. Speak to our trained counsellors if you need support, free and confidential.

Research into the socioeconomic impacts of gambling has used an economic cost-benefit analysis similar to that in alcohol and drug research. However, putting an arbitrary monetary value on intangible harms can distort the results and overlook positive impacts that are difficult to quantify (e.g., pain and suffering of those close to a problem gambler). Moreover, social costs or benefits must aggregate societal real wealth, and this definition can be misleading because it can equate to an individual’s income, which could be seen as unfair in the case of a gambling harm that does not affect a person’s personal income.

Taking a public health approach to gambling impacts can avoid these problems by considering the whole severity spectrum of gambling, including both the negative and positive effects. It is estimated that one person with a gambling problem negatively impacts seven others, including friends and family members.