The external impacts of gambling are far more complex than the individual gambler’s own actions. The effects of gambling have been studied at multiple levels, including the individual, interpersonal, and community. These impacts may span the lifetime of the individual gambler, or extend over generations. There are methodological challenges to assessing gambling’s external impacts. For example, determining the extent of the impact of gambling on a particular individual’s life course or social capital is difficult.
Social costs of gambling
Indirect costs of gambling are lost productivity and emotional distress during working hours. These costs are difficult to quantify but they can include lost wages and lost productivity due to mental illness. An hour of lost production is equivalent to the value of the work performed by an employee without gambling problems. The cost of lost productivity is calculated as the average gross salary plus social security contributions. These costs are not included in the benefits of gambling because of potential double counting. Social costs of gambling are difficult to quantify but are large enough to warrant policy change.
Costs are difficult to quantify because there is no clear relationship between gambling and other problems. Rather, these costs may be the result of disorders or life circumstances. Consequently, most studies discount costs using a causality adjustment factor. The Australian Productivity Commission, for example, developed a method for calculating these costs, using the assumption that 80% of problem gamblers would not have the problem if they did not gamble. This method is not perfect but it is an important starting point for assessing gambling’s societal costs.
Psychological harms of gambling
A person’s addiction to gambling can lead to a number of negative consequences, including physical, social, and psychological problems. Gambling is a behavioral addiction, and as such, has characteristics similar to other addictions. Gamblers crave gambling as much as they would any other substance. To diagnose a problem gambling problem, the person must exhibit four of the following symptoms: tolerance, withdrawal, chasing losses, and difficulty controlling urges. Other criteria address the financial harm associated with gambling.
Pathological gambling is associated with a significant impact on anxiety and depression, with individuals reporting greater tension and fear prior to a gambling session. This anticipatory anxiety is uncomfortable and unpleasant, and has both a pleasurable and painful component. Gambling can help relieve generalized anxiety, and in the short term it can be used as a way to avoid stressful life events. While initially the impulsiveness effect of gambling may be positive, it can eventually cause an individual to develop a gambling disorder.
The relationship between gambling and social capital is complex, but the basic idea is that those who have higher levels of social capital have more opportunities to make money. This social capital, in turn, can reduce the chances of developing a gambling problem. This connection was a focus of a recent study in the Journal of Addictions, which found that social capital and gambling go hand-in-hand. The authors used a variety of different methods to test this hypothesis, including grounded theory, case study, and oral history.
The study examined the effect of gambling on the development of social capital in communities. In addition to individual effectiveness, social capital is the ties that bind communities together and enhance a person’s quality of life. The impact of gambling on social capital has been linked to increased social capital levels in recent studies, and casino gambling is one way to increase this community-level quality. Researchers have identified six dimensions of social capital, including trust, civic engagement, volunteerism, group participation, giving, and meeting obligations to family and friends.