Gambling is defined as betting money on an outcome of no certainty. Gambling’s origin can be viewed as a natural psychological phenomenon since people were always interested in predicting the future. Curiosity to see the outcome of a bet is as natural as wanting to know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. The exception is that players might get paid when betting in a casino.
Numerous gambling games emerged from a long history of betting. Some of them are more skill-based, and some less. However, each game includes a luck element. Everyone that has indulged gambling activities has felt the moment of thrill right before the outcome. That moment of uncertainty when every outcome is possible is the main reason why people are so attracted to gambling. In which ways will gambling influence health largely depends on the individual and its environment. So, there is no easy answer to the question as each participator is a unique individual. It is clear today that gambling impacts health on:
- individual level
- interpersonal level
- community level
Most of the participators engage gambling purely for entertainment. Land-based casinos feature social settings for meeting people, so many come just to hang out and set a bet or two. There are also various online sites today where one can play gambling games for real money and for free. Online free betting is a great way to blow off some steam and have fun. The main advantage is that game access is instant. Free Double Diamond slots can be played right away with no download and registration requirements, for example. However, some players that use gambling as an escape from problems and are the ones most likely to experience bad health influences.
Gambling Influences on Health: Personal Level
At a personal level, gambling impacts an individual’s work, finances, and well-being.
Most of the gambling problems are related to finances. Financial harms escalate from minor to major, from borrowing money and spending savings to bankruptcy and losing valuable possessions. Those problems are most commonly observed in lower socioeconomic groups of people. Lower socioeconomic groups are more likely to either find comfort in gambling or enter a debt cycle where one borrows the money to play and then plays to pay the money back. People that are betting for entertainment are referred to as “social” gamblers. “Social” gamblers experience much less gambling-related problems.
When it comes to labour impacts, gambling can lead to productivity loss, absenteeism, and termination of employment. People that gamble during the work are likely to encounter these problems while people that bet in the right place and at the right time tend to experience more positive effects like stress relief and energy boost. Instead of doing the work and gambling at the same time, it is recommended to separate them and find a way to enjoy both.
Gambling’s impact on well-being depends on the person’s motive for playing. Gambling should only be engaged for entertainment, in which case a player is more likely to leave the casino fulfilled, relaxed, and happy. Players with different motives often show increases in distress with experiences of guilt, anxiety, grief, and self-hatred.
Gambling Influences on Health: Interpersonal Level
At the interpersonal level, gambling also affects work, finances, and well-being.
It is shown that 5-10 people are affected by a person’s gambling problem. The problem is financial and starts when a person’s relatives and friends start sharing their finances. Financial problems can cause people to go without daily household items, quality food, money for medical treatments, and many more related difficulties.
Reported cases show that gambling affects the work even at the interpersonal level. A huge percent of the people involved with a person with gambling problems experienced negative impacts on their employment.
Gambling Influences On Health: Community Level
At the community level, gambling is often showing numerous positive effects linked to increased government revenue and economic growth that reflect people’s health and quality of life. The government takes advantage of gambling by taxation of gambling operations and through government-controlled monopolies. This results in increased personal incomes and decreased poverty rates.
That is not the case every time since some of the reports show that gambling doesn’t or even has negative effects on the government’s revenue. Some forms of gambling are financed by charitable and other community organizations that use betting profits for their own purposes. The fact that the gambling industry employs a great number of people shows how much impact it has on our community.
Casino development has led to an increase in bars, markets, restaurants, and other businesses. New gambling revenues contribute to the development of local communities by including various complementary facilities. The gambling industry also affects other industries, like when casinos are located in tourist areas. Entertainment businesses like hotels and restaurants are the ones that profit the most from this.
The greatest labour impact of gambling is the employment rate increase. Gambling businesses that attract huge money can benefit further employment by contributing to the local infrastructure.
A community’s health is impacted as well by gambling through financial means. Governments regulate gambling operations since maintaining functions of the industry require certain regulations and administrative procedures. All of the mentioned services require a lot of resources. Government money is used for providing gambling regulations, researches, and treatments. In some cases, these costs are very high and reflect poorly on the economy.
Nevertheless, gambling revenues also contribute to various public sectors like health, culture, and education. Aside from positive, gambling also shows negative effects at the community level. This is due to the increase in casino openings. This leads to traffic growth, noise, and greater pollution. Not only that, prices of living increase faster than people’s salaries as a result of casino gambling.
Negative Gambling Health Influences
A person can experience negative influences of gambling on health only in cases of the problem and pathological gambling behaviours. Studies say that pathological and problem gamblers experience higher levels of stress. Stress is the root of all health problems associated with gambling and it affects a person’s mental and physical condition.
To understand the spectrum of negative stress effects, it is important to know that stress affects health acutely and chronically. Acute effects are more related to physiological changes, while chronic ones are more related to physical health. Being under stress for a long period can lead to health problems of digestive, cardiovascular, and any other organ system. Substance abuse and mental illness rates are also shown to be higher among pathological and problem gamblers.
It is clear today that pathological gambling is associated with many disorders like anxiety, depression, and alcoholism. Anxiety is defined as a body’s natural response to stress. People experience fear, increased sensitivity, cold sweat, and tremor. Depression is a mood disorder that affects many people today related to feelings of sadness, anger, and low self-worth. Signs of depression include:
- irritability and frustration
- passive behaviour and dark thoughts
- a feeling of shame and low self-worth
- No appetite
People with a gambling problem are twice as likely to encounter depression and 18 times more likely to experience severe distress. Linked to the depression, among the other problems, gamblers have a higher suicide rate.
Positive Gambling Health Influences
There is a ton of evidence that shows how gambling influences health in a negative way but almost no evidence of a positive health impact. However, statistics show that “social” gamblers experience positive health effects as they are less prone to diabetes, anxiety and mood changes, and high blood pressure.
It is because “social” gamblers experience lower levels of stress by using gambling as a tool for socialization and relaxation. When a person approaches gambling with a goal unrelated to entertainment, there is always a chance that the goal might not be achieved, and that is what’s causing stress. Engaging gambling in the right way can lead to positive experiences. There are many games that one can play in land-based and online casinos like slots, poker, and roulette. Numerous gaming options make it easier for people to adjust gambling to their lives in a more compatible way while avoiding negative effects. Playing gambling games can relieve people from stress and benefit their overall health condition.
For a user to experience less negative and more positive effects of gambling, the gambling associations strongly promote and provide responsible gambling services. This means that if people encounter any kind of gambling-related difficulties, they can rely on customer services, which should be available at any time. Gambling difficulties include financial, health, well-being, social, and work sorts.
A key to responsible gambling is the smart gambling approach. This refers to being able to balance between everyday life and leisure activities such as gambling. However, not everyone is able to achieve the balance, while some balance between the two successfully. A way to indulge gambling is not to take it way too seriously, knowing that any outcome is possible and that gambling is not the most important thing in life.