The Impact of Gambling on Society and How to Promote Responsible Gambling

Gambling can be an enjoyable way to pass time and make money. But its effects on society must also be understood, in order to promote responsible gambling practices.

These impacts can be divided into two broad categories: negative and positive; costs and benefits, manifesting on personal, interpersonal and societal levels.


Gambling’s effect on society is an important one that needs careful examination. This includes ascertaining which forms of gambling are legal in each state, where it may take place and who may participate.

Legalization should take into account ways that limit gambling’s negative impacts on society while encouraging responsible play – both individuals and casinos should strive for this end.

Problem gambling can become an addiction that causes serious financial and personal repercussions, as well as being an affective health disorder that impacts both brain and body.

While exact statistics regarding problem gambling are unknown, estimates indicate that around one percent of the population may have an addiction to gambling based on statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. However, there are ways to prevent developing an addiction should one arise as well as resources available if someone else needs help overcoming theirs.


Gambling in the United States is subject to various levels of regulation – federal, state and tribal. Congress has used its power under the Commerce Clause to outlaw interstate wagering, ban gambling on Native American land and oversee relations between states offering gambling services and nations that do.

Online gambling has been subject to more stringent regulation since 1961 when the Federal Wire Act outlawed interstate betting on sports, but did not address other forms of gambling; subsequent legislation known as Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 prohibited financial transactions involving gaming service providers; some foreign providers even moved their operations offshore as a result.

Responsible gaming is a cornerstone of casino operations in the US and many states have passed laws to ensure casinos act responsibly when marketing their games. Such laws often mandate that casinos support treatments for problem gamblers as well as education/training/research related to disordered gambling.

Operators seeking to promote responsible gambling should utilize positive messages and images geared toward supporting players’ emotional and social wellbeing rather than making money, and educate players on limits, cool-off periods, and self-exclusion policies.


Gambling is an enduring form of entertainment and economy, yet for some individuals it can become an addiction characterized by placing large bets with the intent to win money.

Financial stress, disruption of daily life functions, and negative impacts to relationships can all have detrimental repercussions. Furthermore, it may be indicative of more serious mental health disorders.

In the United States, an estimated two million individuals are experiencing problems associated with gambling and 20 million are indirectly impacted.

An individual may become addicted to gambling when their behavior causes distress, becomes habitual or causes financial strain. Gambling could even impact them negatively in other ways such as losing jobs or becoming depressed.

Treatment for gambling disorder centers around changing harmful gambling behaviors and thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), one form of counseling used in treating this condition, helps individuals recognize and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors such as rationalizations or false beliefs that lead to gambling.


Gambling has the power to have an immense effect on society, which makes responsible gambling even more vital. This includes making sure gamblers understand its risks and seeking help before becoming dependent.

Further, gambling establishments themselves should practice responsible gambling by employing stringent ID verification processes to safeguard underage gamblers, and offering self-exclusion programs for problem gamblers.

Stakeholders and key informants noted that certain populations were particularly at risk for problem gambling, including older adults and people with histories of imprisonment. Furthermore, they advocated that people could gain access to education about gambling prevention as well as services within their local communities.

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