Social Impacts of Gambling

While studies of gambling have largely focused on its economic costs and benefits, few have considered its social effects. However, as Williams et al. and Walker and Barnett point out, social impacts are those that do more harm than good to society. Social costs are not personal, but are societal. In this article, we’ll examine social impacts of gambling and how they differ from economic costs. If you’re a newbie in the field of social impact assessment, keep these factors in mind when evaluating gambling.

Positive impacts

There are both negative and positive impacts of gambling on a community. These impacts can be seen at three different levels, from individual to societal. These impacts include direct, immediate, and indirect health effects. Indirect, and often less visible, impacts include the increase in stress levels and the creation of a stronger community economy. While there are positive impacts of gambling, these can be limited to specific areas or be generalized across the whole community.

Increased economic activity is one of the most prominent benefits of gambling. Casinos attract a large number of people, which boosts local economies. However, some research shows that casinos may increase crime rates. Problem gambling results in higher crime rates and costs the prison system between $51 million and $243 million per year. While these negative impacts are significant, they are outweighed by the positive effects of gambling on local economies. There are no studies showing a definitive positive or negative impact of gambling on local economies, but these impacts are worth considering.

Social acceptability

Although gambling is socially acceptable for many, it can be detrimental to those with poor mental health. One study by Rina Gupta of McGill University found that many high school students gamble on state lotteries. While the state lotteries provide official sanction to gambling, they do not necessarily cause compulsive gambling. The social acceptability of gambling is a crucial factor in determining whether a certain type of gambling is acceptable.

Several factors influence young adults’ attitudes toward gambling. For example, children of gambling parents are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves. This is consistent with the social learning theory, which holds that children imitate gambling parents. Other factors that influence young adults’ gambling attitudes include actual gambling experiences, prior knowledge, and social exposure. In addition, adolescents who report having friends with gambling problems or substance abuse problems tend to be more likely to have positive attitudes toward gambling.


The costs of gambling affect individuals at different levels. The direct costs are directly related to the money spent on the activities, but the indirect costs are intangible. They correspond to lost productivity as a result of gambling problems. Moreover, there is a cost for time, which is a limited resource and has an alternative value. Loss of productive hours is equivalent to the value of the work performed by an employee during a typical working day. The Australian Productivity Commission developed a method that takes this into account.

Problem gamblers cause significant financial strain on their employers. In addition to missing work, they spend extended periods on the phone, on the Internet, or dealing with crisis situations. In Quebec, a study revealed that employees with gambling addictions cost employers an average of five hours of lost time per month. If an employee earns $30k per year, this would amount to $5 million in lost wages. In addition to lost wages, problem gamblers also generate significant social costs. For example, embezzlement and theft by employees often fund their gambling habits.