Although the revenue generated by gambling is beneficial to public services, few studies have examined its positive effects on gamblers. In order to assess the negative effects of gambling, researchers use disability weights, a measurement of the burden a health state imposes on the individual’s quality of life. These weights have also been used to measure the intangible social costs of gambling, such as the impact of gambling on gambling-dependent persons’ social networks.
While a supportive family and friends are the best places to start, seeking professional help may be necessary if the problem has gotten out of control. Many states have gambling helplines. A National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP, is also available. Self-help groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous or Gam-Anon, can be beneficial for those struggling with gambling addiction. By attending these groups, gamblers can begin to recognize their addictive tendencies and make a plan to overcome them.
Many studies on the economic benefits of gambling have ignored the negative social effects of the industry. Although economic costs and benefits of gambling are important, these effects can’t be measured without considering their social effect. Walker and Barnett’s definition of social costs defines social costs as those that harm someone or benefit no one but themselves. Small businesses are particularly likely to suffer from negative effects of gambling, especially if casino expansion becomes widespread. These negative effects may lead to increased unemployment rates, lower wages, and higher costs for shop rents and other necessities.
While compulsive gambling is more common in men than women, it often develops later in life. Typically, women begin gambling later in life than men and can become addicted very quickly. In addition to gender, genetics, and family influences all increase the chances of developing a gambling disorder. Other factors that increase the risk of compulsive gambling include family or friend influences and medications for restless legs syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. Finally, personality traits can contribute to compulsive gambling.