Gambling is a popular leisure time activity in most countries. It has major social and economic impacts that not only affect the gambler, but his/her significant others and society as a whole.
Impacts of gambling can be categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health, and well-being. These classes manifest at different levels: personal, interpersonal and societal/community levels.
Negative effects of gambling are mainly observed on the individual level, while positive effects are observable at the personal, interpersonal and societal/community level. The latter category is the most important for evaluating the long-term impacts of gambling.
The main purpose of conducting impact studies is to assess the overall social and economic impacts of gambling on a national or global scale, and to provide evidence that can help researchers and policymakers understand which gambling policies will reduce or increase costs or benefits the most effectively.
This type of research is conducted using a public health approach, where harms are assessed across the severity spectrum of gambling and costs and benefits are weighed together. In contrast, economic costing studies often ignore harms and focus only on problematic gambling, underestimating the costs incurred by gambling.
Despite the fact that gambling is widely perceived as a social activity, it is a dangerous one. It can lead to financial problems and mental illness, both of which are associated with increased rates of suicide among problem gamblers. It is also known to intensify poverty, which can have a negative impact on family members.