Gambling Impact Studies


Gambling is a popular leisure time activity in most countries, but it has major impacts on the gamblers, their significant others, and society at large. In order to understand these impacts, it is important to view gambling from a public health perspective. Using this approach, impacts are examined on an individual and community level with an emphasis on reducing costs and increasing benefits. Gambling impact studies also examine the benefits and costs of different gambling policies.

A person’s motivation for gambling can vary, but often it is a form of self-medication, or a way to try and soothe unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, stress, depression, or boredom. People may also gamble as a way to celebrate, socialize with friends, or relieve loneliness. Problematic gambling can cause a range of negative effects, including increased debt, relationship strain, and depression and anxiety. In some cases, a person’s unhealthy gambling behaviour can lead to legal action and even homelessness.

The first step to overcoming harmful gambling is recognising it as a problem. Getting help for the gambler is a great place to start, but it’s also essential for family and friends of the person to seek therapy and other support themselves. It is important for family members and friends to realise that they cannot force their loved one to accept the problem, but they can help in other ways such as:

Encouraging the person to find healthier activities to replace gambling can be a challenge, but there are plenty of options. They can make new friends, participate in group activities such as a book club or sports team, enroll in an education class, volunteer, or practice relaxation techniques. It’s a good idea to get financial advice, as well, and consider changing the will in case money is being misused by a gambling addiction.

It’s important for the family of a problem gambler to be aware that their own emotional and financial health is at risk. They should seek therapy and counselling themselves, as well as getting legal and financial advice. It is important for them to recognise that they are not responsible for their loved one’s gambling behaviour, and that it’s a complex issue with many contributing factors.

It’s also important for the family to set boundaries around spending money. For example, a credit card limit can be set and bank accounts opened to prevent over-drafting. It’s also a good idea to put valuables in safe deposit. If the gambler has trouble controlling their finances, they can join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on Alcoholics Anonymous, and find a sponsor who can guide them through the recovery process.