Public Health and Gambling

Gambling involves risking money or something of value on an event involving chance and the intention to win. It can include card games, dice and board games such as bingo or roulette, video poker machines and slot machines, lotteries and scratchcards, horse racing accumulators, football accumulators and casino table games such as baccarat and blackjack. It also includes placing bets within a social circle on events such as the outcome of a football game or a horse race.

Gambling has a significant negative impact on people’s quality of life, but many studies focus on only the economic costs and benefits [1, 2]. A public health approach would consider the negative social impacts of gambling in addition to or instead of its economic effects. For example, health-related quality of life (HRQL) weights—which measure the per-person burden of a condition on an individual’s life satisfaction—can be used to assess the intangible social costs associated with gambling.

If you have a gambling problem or know someone who does, there are ways to get help. It’s important to reach out to friends and family for support, join a non-gambling support group such as Gamblers Anonymous or talk with a mental health professional. You can also learn healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with family and friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques. And remember, the more you chase your losses, the more likely you are to lose even more.