Gambling is a popular leisure time activity, but it also has significant impacts that affect not only the gamblers themselves, but their family, friends, work colleagues and the community/society. Gambling impacts can be categorized on the personal, interpersonal and community/society levels (Fig. 1). Interpersonal and community/society level impacts can be both negative and positive, resulting in costs and benefits that are not necessarily monetary, but which aggregate to societal real wealth and cause harm or benefit to members of the gambling community.
Many people gamble because they want to win money or other valuable items, but it is important to remember that the odds of winning are very low and are often not as high as advertised. The risk of losing a lot of money is much higher than winning, and it can lead to feelings of helplessness or guilt. People who have lost a lot of money may start lying to family members, friends or therapists to hide their problem, or even commit illegal acts to get the funds they need to recover their losses.
If you are concerned that your gambling is getting out of control, try to focus on other ways to relieve unpleasant emotions or boredom – such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and trying new hobbies. You can also join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and helps people stop gambling.