Despite its many benefits, gambling can have negative impacts on society. Historically, research on gambling impacts has tended to focus on the negative effects, namely the emergence of problem gambling. This approach, however, does not fully explore the positive effects of gambling, such as the increased health and happiness of those who gamble, as well as the benefits to the community. The benefits of gambling can often be underestimated, as it has been shown that even nongamblers can suffer negative consequences.
The impacts of gambling are multidimensional, ranging from personal to social, societal, and economic. They are observed in individuals, groups, and communities, and can affect the individual, his or her family, and workmates. Some of these impacts are permanent, while others are temporary, reversible, or less severe, and may affect a person over a lifetime. In the long term, these impacts may be catastrophic and lead to homelessness.
Some studies have attempted to measure the economic benefits of gambling through the notion of ‘consumer surplus’ – the difference between what consumers pay for a product or service and the actual price. For instance, the Australian gambling industry estimates that it generates between $8 and 11 billion in consumer surplus each year. However, this arbitrary measure cannot take into account the social and non-monetary impacts of gambling. It is not possible to quantify the effects of gambling on society purely by measuring the impact of individual casinos on the economy.
In most countries, gambling has become a popular pastime activity. While this activity may have positive or negative effects, there is little doubt that it impacts society. Impact studies are a great way to compare policies on gambling and help policymakers find the right gambling policies. These studies use a public health approach, which assesses the impact of gambling across a range of severity. Further, these studies can provide basic principles for conducting gambling impact assessments. They provide policymakers and researchers with valuable information that can guide future decisions.
A few studies have reported positive impacts of gambling on the social and health of the gambler. While petty theft, illicit lending, and homicide in the family are relatively common, violence associated with gambling is extreme and rarely studied. Health-related quality of life weights (HRQL), also known as disability weights, have been used to determine the social cost of gambling. The social cost of gambling is particularly high, especially among problem gamblers.
In the United States, gambling is widely popular, but it is still subject to federal and state regulation. While it is legal, state laws set limits on the type of gambling that is allowed. Federal laws on gambling have been implemented to protect citizens in certain areas. In the past, Congress has used the Commerce Clause power to regulate gambling, particularly in Native American territories. It has also passed laws prohibiting the sale of lottery tickets and outlawed sports betting, with certain exceptions.