• Home
  • Public Health and Gambling

Public Health and Gambling

Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that is not under your control and with the aim of winning something else of value. Whether you bet on the outcome of a football match, buy a scratchcard or spin a roulette wheel, your choice is matched to ‘odds’ set by the betting company which determine how much money you could win if successful. But there is no guarantee that you will win.

Many people gamble for social reasons, such as playing card games with friends or family, or to make the occasion more enjoyable. Others are inspired to take risks for the financial rewards, either because they have some spare cash or because they dream about what they would do with it if they won.

Problem gambling can have severe and lasting consequences for individuals, families and their communities. It can damage relationships, impact on work performance and study, lead to health problems and cause debts that result in homelessness. For some people, it can be hard to recognise that their gambling is causing harm and they may hide their spending or lie about how much time they spend on it.

While studies have focused on evaluating the economic impacts of gambling, there is also evidence that it has significant social costs and benefits, which are not easily quantified. To capture the full extent of these impacts, a public health approach is needed that uses disability weights to quantify the burden on quality of life.