Gambling and Its Effects on Individuals, Families and Communities


Gambling is a common, addictive and socially constructed behaviour that involves risking money or things of value to predict the outcome of a game or event. This can include scratchcards, fruit machines and betting with friends.

While there are many ways to gamble, gambling addiction is a serious problem that needs to be treated with professional support. It can have life-altering consequences, including financial losses and strained relationships. The good news is that recovery from a gambling addiction is possible.

A new study found that a growing number of Americans gambled at least once in their lives. It also shows that more people are able to gamble online, which means it is now more accessible than ever before.

Understanding the complexities of gambling is essential to treating the problem effectively. The best treatment is aimed at helping people who are experiencing problems with gambling to stop the behavior and learn new skills.

The study looked at the effects of gambling on individuals, families and communities. It included interviews and focus groups with a range of people who had experienced harm from gambling.

Those who were interviewed and those who participated in the focus groups described different kinds of harms that they had experienced, but there was an overall sense of complexity around gambling related harms. This was felt to be due to the fact that harms from gambling could be experienced at various levels of engagement with gambling, from the first experience of engaging with gambling through to legacy and intergenerational harms.

General harms were identified in the data as an initial impact on a person who gambled that progressively worsened with time and had a negative effect on the health of that individual. This included loss of savings, erosion of financial resources and the capacity to purchase other discretionary items that could not be sourced from the usual budget or that were beyond the normative or luxury spend.

In some instances these were a result of a rational decision to prioritise the purchase of gambling products over other purchases from the discretionary budget, but in some cases there was a feeling that the individual had become automatic and lost their awareness or control. This was seen to have a greater impact on the individual’s health than financial losses, and was more severe in some cases.

Other harms were a result of the person who gambled losing their identity or self-esteem, and they had an impact on the person’s ability to function as a member of their community. This was a significant issue as it affected the quality of relationships and the individual’s employment or studies, and contributed to secondary harms such as reduced performance in work or study that was intensified by the presence of gambling related fatigue or distraction.

Relationship harms were a result of the person engaging with gambling not being able to spend as much time as they would like or need to with their partner, family or friends. This was a very common experience of gambling related harm and included relationship breakdowns with the person who gambled as well as the loss of time spent with their children or other loved ones.