Mental and physical health problems, financial issues, and conflicts in the family are among the common negative effects of gambling. Six to eight million people in America are estimated to have a gambling problem.
Gambling refers to the betting of money on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the intent of winning additional wealth. The decision to gamble money is based on three parameters namely; how much to bet, the predictability of the event, and the conditions agreed upon, between the gamblers. The skill of a gambler lies in weighing the three parameters and making a decision about what amount should be staked and how much should be expected in return.
Games offered in casinos, table games like poker, Red Dog, and Blackjack, as also electronic games like Slot Machine and Video Poker are some of the common types of gambling. Card games, coin tossing, and dice-based games are some non-casino based forms of gambling. Sports betting and arbitrage betting are the other types. In the following sections of this Entertainism article, we discuss the negative effects of gambling on the individual and society.
◼ Gambling is practiced as a means of recreation. A recreational activity is supposed to be refreshing and relaxing, but something like gambling is contrary to the very purpose of recreation. Forget satisfaction or peace, it is not even refreshing in the real sense. Betting is a mentally taxing activity, and as one goes on risking more and more money, anxiety starts building.
◼ Over time, the practice of gambling starts becoming a habit and begins to have damaging effects at psychological, physical, and social levels. The National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG) describes this type of gambling behavior as problem gambling.
◼ The stress from gambling may lead to health issues like ulcers, stomach problems, muscle pains, headaches, and problems with sleep.
◼ Gamblers often exhibit mood swings and a strangely secretive behavior. The effect is similar to that of having a drug or a drink, which is why gambling changes one's mental state and mood.
◼ Similar to how an individual keeps consuming substances like drugs or alcohol to experience an altered mental state, he continues to gamble. It soon becomes a habit that can't be broken.
◼ Children of parents who are problem gamblers or gambling addicts tend to feel abandoned and angry, further increasing stress and leading to strained family relations.
◼ According to a research by NCPG, 76 percent of problem gamblers are likely to have a major depressive disorder.
◼ An Austrian study said that around 1 in 5 suicidal patients had a gambling problem.
◼ Problem gamblers and addicts tend to abuse their family members. According to the National Research Council, 10 to 17% of the children of problem gamblers have been abused and so have 25 to 50% of the partners of problems gamblers.
◼ Addiction to gambling has been linked with substance abuse. The two go hand in hand. Some take to substance abuse to supplement the high they get from winning huge sums while gambling. Some go that way to forget the sorrow of losing big sums when gambling.
◼ Substances of abuse are served at casinos and in pubs and clubs, thus increasing the likelihood of gamblers consuming them. To add to the so-called merry atmosphere, gamblers often smoke or drink while playing.
◼ According to the University of New York, in people with alcohol use disorders, the chances of developing an addiction to gambling are 23 times higher.
◼ A majority of those addicted to gambling have substance abuse disorders.
◼ Studies show that children with a sibling or parent addicted to gambling, are more likely to take to substance abuse.
◼ Research has shown that gambling can lead to harmful behavior in people. Addiction to gambling, coupled with substance abuse can make the gamblers physically abusive towards their family. The stress of risking huge amounts of money or the frustration after losing it can increase the tendency of abuse in gamblers. Due to lost mental peace, they may ill-treat their spouse and children. Their mental state can even lead to suicidal tendencies.
◼ Gambling has proven to be addictive. The addiction leads people to continue with gambling irrespective of whether they earn or lose in the deal. It only leads to a thoughtless expenditure of money and valuables.
◼ Gambling can lead to criminal activities. The addiction gets on to the gamblers to such an extent that they fail to think wisely before acting. Because of this, they land in worse situations and take the wrong decisions in life.
◼ According to a study by the George State University, 50% of the problem gamblers commit crime. A study by the same university suggested that 73% of the individuals who are imprisoned are found to be problem gamblers.
◼ As gambling leads to increased criminal activities, in a way, gamblers add to the burden on prisons and the legal system.
◼ People who fall prey to gambling tend to remain away from their families and waste money on other bad practices. They engage in gambling activities at the cost of their time with family and friends. This proves to be detrimental to their social and family life. They tend to stay away from their near ones, resulting in distrust between them and their loved ones.
◼ Gambling at the cost of one's job results in a decline in the quality of his professional life. The addiction robs a gambler of all the productive time and leads to loss of efficiency at work. It causes a decline in his/her work performance, thus hampering his career.
◼ Apart from absence at work and drop in efficiency, a common observation is that gamblers tend to steal money and engage in fraudulent behavior to recover from financial losses incurred when gambling, or to get more money to bet.
◼ People continue gambling with the greed of winning money. The greed never ends and they keep betting more and more. When they lose the money they had risked, they further gamble to recover the lost amount and it becomes a vicious circle even they can't escape from.
◼ They start borrowing money and take secret loans. In spite of the losses incurred, they continue betting. Their debt keeps building and it may reach an amount that exceeds their capacity to repay.
◼ The addiction to gambling can leave one in bankruptcy. Thus, gambling can have a grave economic impact which is difficult to reverse.
◼ The costs of treating compulsive gamblers are huge. Rehabilitating the gambling addicts needs money and time, and the process is not very easy. Thus, gambling practices cause a huge financial burden on the families of the affected and on the society at large.
◼ Additionally, rehabilitation and public assistance systems are taxed.
Initially, one looks at gambling as a way to run away from life's problems, or from stress, anger, and loneliness. Over time, it becomes a habit, and eventually an obsession that can't be overcome. The addiction has negative effects on one's physical and mental health and it proves to be detrimental to one's social, personal, and professional life. On giving a serious consideration to the negative effects of gambling, we realize that it is best avoided.