Gambling is an activity in which people wager something of value on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value. It is a common form of entertainment and can be enjoyed in many settings, including casinos, racetracks, gas stations, church halls and sporting events. In addition, gambling can be done online and through video games. While some individuals do not develop a problem, others can become addicted to gambling and experience negative psychological, personal, financial and social consequences as a result.
Some of the most significant costs associated with gambling are the indirect ones that affect people who do not gamble themselves, but may be affected by a person’s behavior or choices. These include family, friends and co-workers. These externalities are often overlooked in economic cost-benefit assessments of gambling. However, they are a critical component to consider in the assessment of the total costs and benefits of gambling.
The indirect costs of gambling are often referred to as “social costs” and include the following:
There are three levels of impacts from gambling, namely personal, interpersonal and community/society level (Fig 1). The personal and interpersonal level impacts are mostly non-monetary and can be invisible. These include the costs associated with gambling addiction, as well as costs incurred by people close to a gambler.
On the other hand, the societal/community level externalities are mostly monetary and include costs/benefits related to problem gambling and long-term cost. The societal/community impact can also be seen in terms of economic activity and economic growth.
A good way to prevent yourself from becoming addicted to gambling is to avoid any activities that trigger you to gamble. For instance, if you find yourself gambling on your mobile phone when you’re bored or after a stressful day at work, try to replace these activities with other more productive and healthier activities such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and/or learning relaxation techniques.
Another thing you can do is to set a budget for your gambling and stick to it. It’s important to remember that you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and you should never chase your losses. This means leaving your credit cards at home, letting someone else manage your money and closing online betting accounts. You should also set a weekly gambling limit and only take cash when you go out to gamble.
Finally, it’s important to realize that gambling is not a profitable activity and that it is only meant for entertainment. If you feel that your gambling has gone out of control, you should talk about it with a trusted friend or professional counsellor. Also, make sure to pay your essential bills – such as rent/mortgage, utilities, council tax, food and childcare – before you start gambling. Finally, make a list of places that you can’t visit when you’re feeling the urge to gamble and try to spend less time in those locations.