Gambling involves risking something of value (usually money) on an event with some degree of chance and the prospect of winning a prize. It can be conducted with real money or other items of value such as marbles, cards, coins, pogs, or collectible trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Magic Online.
While the negative impacts of gambling on society have been documented in a variety of studies, there are also many positive aspects of the activity. Gambling can bring people together socially, as friends and family members form clubs to compete against each other, or work together to beat the house edge in games like blackjack. It is also a common form of income for career gamblers, who can make a living entirely from gambling activities.
In the past, studies on gambling were mostly focused on its economic and political effects, but more recently, researchers have examined the personal and social costs of the activity. However, these costs are often intangible and difficult to measure, and most of them are not included in calculations of the net impact of gambling on a society. A public health approach, such as using quality of life or disability weights, could help uncover these costs and improve methodology for assessing gambling impacts on individuals and their communities.
If you or a loved one has a problem with gambling, seek professional help immediately. Don’t feel ashamed, and don’t try to go it alone — it takes tremendous strength and courage to admit that you have a gambling addiction. Thankfully, there are many resources available to help you cope with your situation and rebuild your relationships.