Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on a random event with the intent to win another item of value. While gambling has many negative consequences, it also can provide a number of benefits. This article discusses some of the positive effects of gambling, as well as tips on how to help a loved one who is struggling with gambling problems.
For some people, gambling is a fun hobby that they enjoy from time to time. They may get excited when they win, and disappointed if they lose, but they do not gamble with money that they need for bills or other obligations, and their gambling does not interfere with other areas of their lives. These individuals are often referred to as social gamblers.
Other people, however, have a difficult time quitting gambling. The urge to gamble is so strong for some that they must seek treatment in order to stop the behavior. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments available, including psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy can help a person identify negative thoughts that contribute to gambling, and replace them with healthy beliefs. Medications can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder that may be contributing to the problem. And peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can provide a safe environment for sharing experiences and advice with others in recovery.
Some of the negative impacts of gambling are easy to identify, but identifying the beneficial effects is more complicated. For example, studies that focus on a single aspect of economic impact (e.g., casino revenues and expenditures) do not consider expenditure substitution effects or other important factors.