Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that is at least partly determined by chance with the intent to win a prize. This may include betting on a horse race or a football game, buying lottery or scratch tickets or participating in an office pool. Regardless of the amount invested in the gamble, there is no guarantee that the player will win. Moreover, the more a person spends on gambling, the higher his or her risk of developing a problem.
The psychological and social effects of gambling can be devastating to individuals. They can affect their health, family and work, as well as cause them to steal, lie or commit illegal acts. A person who is addicted to gambling often lies to his or her family members, therapists and employers about the extent of his or her involvement in the activity. Additionally, people who are hooked on gambling often spend large amounts of money to get even after a loss and sometimes even turn to theft or embezzlement to finance their habit.
Some studies indicate that the economic benefits of gambling outweigh the costs, but others argue that there are significant social impacts that have not been considered in calculations of these benefits. In fact, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission says that “analysis of the social costs of expanding gambling has not been a priority” and that it is essential to include these social costs when making decisions on whether to expand gambling opportunities.