The Effects of Gambling on Society
The effects of gambling on society are not only economic, but can also be seen on a personal and interpersonal level. The impacts of gambling can be either positive or negative. For instance, increasing access to gambling has been linked with an increase in problem gambling rates. It has also been associated with increased social inequality, with higher-income households spending more on gambling and poorer households losing more. According to one study, around 50% of the gambling turnover is borne by the poorest one third of the population.
While the economic and social impacts of gambling can be easily measured, the effects on people’s health are difficult to assess. Many of these impacts are nonmonetary, and thus hard to measure, such as emotional stress. In addition, personal impacts are often excluded from gambling impact studies. Therefore, it is important to study social and economic impacts before making decisions about public policy.
Gambling is an extremely common activity worldwide. It is estimated that the legal gambling industry in the United States was worth $335 billion in 2009. Besides cash, other types of gambling can be conducted using non-monetary materials. For example, players of a marbles game might wager marbles. Meanwhile, Magic: The Gathering players can stake collectible game pieces.
Gambling money can be used for worthy programs such as public education. If gambling profits were used to fund public education, this money could be used for teaching children probability and mathematics. If these revenues were used for these purposes, there would be no more need for lottery revenues. Nevertheless, we must remember that the good ends do not justify dishonest means. If we truly wanted to help people, we wouldn’t allow theft, fraud, and gambling to be legal.
Another form of gambling is government lotteries. These are run by governments and use the same tricks that casinos use to make money. In fact, many government lotteries employ similar strategies, including “near miss” slot machines, which make losing combinations appear close to winning large jackpots. Fortunately, this is now illegal in Nevada.