Gambling and Its Impact on Society

Gambling involves placing a bet or stake on an event or game with the intention of winning something else of value. This can be done in many ways, including online. It can be a fun and enjoyable activity for some, but for others it can become harmful. Problem gambling can affect your health, relationships and performance at work or study, lead to serious debt, and even result in homelessness. It can also have a negative impact on those around you, such as family, friends and colleagues.

It is estimated that over half of the population in the UK takes part in some form of gambling activity. Despite its prevalence, there is still much debate on the extent of pathological gambling. This is partly due to the fact that gambling research and policy are largely framed through psychological and economic models of individual behaviour, addiction and ‘rational’ action. This approach has been criticised for neglecting the social context of gambling and overlooking its role in society.

There is a growing body of literature that highlights the impact of gambling on people’s lives. Some of this evidence comes from studies that have compared gamblers with non-gamblers, and has shown that there are significant differences in the way they think about money. Others come from personal stories of gambling harm and recovery, as well as those of family and friends affected by problem gambling.

Traditionally, the most common forms of gambling are casino games, lotteries, scratch-off cards and betting on events such as horse races, football accumulators and elections. However, with the growth of the internet and mobile phones, it is possible to place bets or wagers on just about any event or outcome. This has been referred to as ‘social gambling’. This can include playing card or board games with friends for small amounts of money, being involved in a friendly sports betting pool, or purchasing lottery tickets. This type of gambling is considered less risky than other types and does not necessarily involve a large sum of money.

The results from this study show that participation in regular gambling increased between the ages of 17 and 24 years. This was particularly the case for young men. This pattern is a reflection of the growing popularity of gambling on the internet, where it is easy for young people to gamble anonymously and from anywhere. Individual factors associated with regular gambling were consistent across gender and age, including a low IQ, high sensation seeking and an external locus of control.

The main limitation of this study is the substantial amount of missing data. This was largely due to attrition, with non-responders being more likely to be male and from less affluent social backgrounds than respondents. Multiple imputation methods were used to minimise the effect of missing data on the analyses, but this means that the findings are likely to underestimate the prevalence of gambling. In addition, the analysis was based on self-report of gambling, so it is important to recognise that there may be some methodological bias in this report.