Gambling is any activity in which you risk something of value, such as money or possessions, for a chance to win a prize. It can take many forms including playing casino games, placing bets on sporting events and buying scratchcards. Gambling is an addictive and harmful activity that can affect a person’s health, family, work or social life. It can also cause problems with mental health and even lead to suicide. People with mental health problems are more at risk of gambling problems and can be more likely to gamble to feel better about themselves or distract themselves from other problems. Problem gambling can harm your mental and physical health, lead to debt and bankruptcy, and cause distress for your family and friends.
The negative effects of gambling are widely reported in the media and by government bodies. Typically, these reports focus on the harms that gambling causes to individuals and society, for example, increased crime or financial crisis. They may ignore the positive benefits of gambling such as socialising, mental development and skill improvement.
Some studies have looked at the benefits of gambling but these tend to be focused on the economic impacts such as tax revenues and jobs created. Other research has analysed the impact on health using a public health approach to gambling. This approach includes the use of disability weights, which measure the impact on a person’s quality of life. This method is less reductive and more holistic than the monetary costs and benefits used in the traditional economic literature.