The Economic Impact of Gambling



Gambling is risking something of value on an activity that relies primarily on chance in the hopes of realizing a profit. It has existed in virtually every society since prerecorded history, and it has been incorporated into local customs and rites of passage throughout the ages. Although many people associate gambling with high-stakes activities, such as the lottery, horse racing, and casino gaming, any bet involving an item of value can be considered a form of gambling, regardless of the amount of money at stake.

In some cases, gambling can provide a sense of fulfillment for basic human needs such as the need for a sense of achievement or belonging. In fact, casinos are often built around this idea of status and specialness, with elaborate marketing strategies and reward programs to foster these feelings in their customers. Unfortunately, gambling can also contribute to these same feelings of despair and loss, which is why it is important for those who are worried about their own or a loved one’s gambling to seek help.

Gambling is often considered to have a positive economic impact, but it is difficult to measure these benefits accurately. The vast majority of gross impact studies focus solely on identifying and quantifying economic benefits without trying to identify costs, especially those related to problem gambling. Some recent studies, however, have begun to shift this focus and are beginning to move towards more balanced measurement approaches. It is hoped that these new methods will lead to more reliable estimates of gambling’s effects, both positive and negative.