Gambling is the risking of money or something of value on a game involving chance, such as lotteries, scratchcards, fruit machines, sports betting or the pokies (Australian poker machine). Gambling has been a worldwide activity since ancient times and is now a multi-billion dollar industry. It is estimated that the total amount of money wagered on legal gambling products worldwide each year is over $10 trillion.
Gambling can have positive economic effects, such as generating tax revenue that governments use to fund services. It also creates jobs in the gaming sector, including security, maintenance and customer service. The gambling industry also contributes to local economies through tourism and business investment. Nevertheless, it can also have negative economic impacts, such as increased criminality and social costs. Pathological and problem gamblers increase police and prison cost due to their higher crime rates and are often linked to a lower quality of life.
While many studies focus on the harms of gambling, there is limited research into the benefits and costs of gambling. The main challenge is defining the concept of “social impact” – most of the impacts are non-monetary, which makes them difficult to measure. Some authors, such as Williams and others, have proposed a model for studying the socioeconomic impact of gambling, which includes both financial and non-financial elements. This model is an important step towards a common methodology to study the effects of gambling. The model defines three classes of impacts: personal, family and society/community level, and encompasses invisible individual and external costs and benefits, as well as those that aggregate societal real wealth, costs related to problem gambling, and long-term costs and benefits.