Gambling has economic impacts on society

Health Watch

The economic impact of gambling mental disorders is wide ranging, long term and costly.
These disorders impose a range of costs on individuals, families, and communities as a whole.
Part of the economic burden is obvious and measurable while part of it is almost impossible to measure.
Among the measurable components of the economic burden are health and social service needs, lost employment, reduced productivity, impact on families and caregivers, level of crime, public safety and negative impact of premature mortality.
It is important to remember indirect costs arising from productivity loss, account for a larger proportion of overall costs than direct costs.
Furthermore, low treatment costs (because of lack of treatment) may increase the indirect costs by increasing the duration of untreated disorders and associated disabilities.

Impact on the quality of life
Mental and behavioural disorders associated with gambling cause massive disruption in the lives of those who are affected, caregivers and their families.
Though the whole range of unhappiness and suffering is not measurable, one of the methods to assess its impact is by using quality of life instruments.
These measures use the subjective ratings of the individuals in a variety of areas to assess the impact of symptoms and disorders on life.
It is shown that quality of life continues to be poor.

Why do we gamble?
People gamble for a whole range of reasons including:

  • THE buzz, the excitement, and the high adrenaline release;
  • THE competitive element – trying to beat other players, the bookie, or the dealer;
  • THE thrill of risk taking, of placing large bets;
  • TO solve financial problems (a quick fix); and;
  • A WAY of escaping from stress or worries.

Next week’s edition: Sensible gambling.