The Benefits and Costs of Gambling
Gambling is a form of wagering that involves the chance of winning money or something else of value. This may include a bet on the outcome of a sporting event, playing a scratchcard or buying a lottery ticket. In each case, the outcome of the wager depends on random factors.
It can be fun and it can be a source of income, but there are also negative effects of gambling that affect individuals and their communities. These effects can range from problems with gambling habits to crime and social isolation.
Problem or pathological gambling is a psychological disorder that requires treatment. This condition can lead to serious consequences, including lowered life expectancy and suicide.
This type of gambling often leads to financial problems, such as debts and homelessness, as well as legal trouble, job loss and relationship breakdown. It can also interfere with a person’s ability to function and perform at work or in school.
Other problems are linked to problem or pathological gambling, such as heightened tension in marriages and divorces and increased risk of physical or emotional abuse. In addition, compulsive gamblers are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than other people in similar circumstances.
The gambling industry can be seen as a legitimate tool for economic development, but it is difficult to evaluate its benefits and costs without benefit-cost analysis. These analyses help determine whether the benefits or costs of gambling are greater than their alternatives and by how much.
One type of benefit-cost analysis is the externality cost model. This approach estimates the additional costs associated with introducing a new service. It also includes the social costs of this new service, which can be difficult to measure.
Grinols and Omorov (1995) used this approach to assess the effect of increasing casino gambling access on spillover costs. They defined these costs as criminal justice system costs, social service costs, and losses from lost productivity. They also included the costs of legalized gambling to suppliers and investors from outside their community.
This type of study is a more comprehensive approach to estimating the economic impacts of gambling than most economic impact studies. However, these studies are limited by the fact that they tend to focus on only one aspect of the issue (e.g., positive economic effects) and they are rarely based on detailed analysis of the benefits and costs of gambling.
Moreover, many studies are written in the format of a before-and-after comparison and attribute any differences to the introduction of gambling. But this is not necessarily true.
There is a growing awareness that it is important to consider the impact of an intervention on its intended population. This is why the public and policymakers should be careful not to assume that a new form of gambling will automatically produce a net positive impact on its target population.
In this case, the benefits from an improvement in gambling availability must be offset by the societal costs of problem or pathological gambling. These costs can be hard to measure, especially intangible social costs such as those associated with emotional pain and loss for family members, or with decreased productivity of employees who are pathological gamblers.