Many studies on gambling have considered the economic benefits and costs of the industry but not its social impacts. While the economic effects are generally well-defined, the social costs are not. As Williams et al. and Walker and Barnett explain, the social cost is harm that occurs to others but not to the individual gambling addict. In addition, these costs are social, rather than personal.
Problem gambling can lead to lifelong issues, especially for young people. There are many warning signs of problem gambling, as well as tools to help parents, educators, and youth combat it. By focusing on these risk factors, problem gambling can be prevented and curbed. The first step is to prevent it before it starts.
While gambling addiction is a common and often untreated mental illness, the symptoms can be very subtle. Early warning signs may include family disputes, domestic violence, and petty theft. Suicide risk is also a warning sign of problem gambling. The police should screen suspects of gambling addiction for signs of suicidal ideation, and incoming detainees should be thoroughly screened for problem gambling.
While problem gambling in young people has many similarities to problem gambling in adults, there are some important differences. Young problem gamblers often report more anxiety and depression. They often gamble to escape problems, or to compensate for their negative emotions. The behavior also can lead to problems with school, work, and relationships with family.
Positive effects of gambling on health
While there are many negative effects of gambling, studies have also demonstrated some positive effects. Although problem gambling has been the focus of much attention in the literature, other benefits are also present. These health benefits may be less obvious because the effects of gambling may occur even among nongamblers. Moreover, studies of the economic costs of gambling often ignore the benefits that gambling may have for nongamblers. Thus, a balanced knowledge of gambling impacts is critical to improve public policies.
One study found that gambling has positive effects on health, especially for older people. The study also found that gambling was associated with a higher level of happiness, compared to nongamblers. Moreover, elderly participants reported greater physical health and well-being compared to nongamblers.