Gambling involves the risk of taking a chance and wagering something of value on a random event. It is often considered a leisure activity and has significant social and economic impacts. However, gambling can also lead to problems for gamblers and for the people around them.

Gambling is a widespread international commercial activity. It has positive and negative impacts, which are generally classified into three categories. These are financial, health, and social. The social impacts of gambling are more difficult to measure.

Financial impacts include changes in personal financial situations. For example, if the family has to borrow money to pay for a game, it costs the other members of the family. Also, increased gambling opportunities increase social inequality. This is true for both the recreational and amusement sectors. Some studies have found that lower socioeconomic households are more likely to have a gambling problem. In addition, more income is lost on gambling in poorer households.

Economic costs-benefit analysis, commonly used in alcohol and drug research, is another approach to evaluate the impact of gambling. This method considers the harms to others, which can be measured by the disability weights.

Studies that examine the economic cost-benefit of gambling are important in identifying the benefits to society and individuals, which may be a key to forming public policy. One way to do this is to determine the consumer surplus. Consumer surplus is the difference between what people would pay for a product and what they actually pay for it.

Health costs are often neglected in gambling impact analyses. For instance, a number of studies have looked at the psychological benefits of gambling. This is because there is evidence that the social interactions and social support provided by gambling can help reduce social isolation. Those who gamble are also more likely to maintain optimism in difficult life circumstances.

Social costs are less studied, but are also important. Studies have reported that problem gambling increases the chances of committing intimate partner violence (IPV), dating violence, and child abuse. Furthermore, the risk of severe marital violence is greater among pathological gamblers. Other studies have shown that opening a casino in an area where gambling is less common is associated with higher rates of problem gambling.

Many mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose and treat gambling disorders. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

While most empirical studies have emphasized the financial and labor costs of gambling, there are still many unaccounted for impacts. A number of researchers have developed a conceptual model to measure gambling impacts.

The PHIGam model attempts to be universal, in that it incorporates the broader social and community-based impact of gambling. It was developed using an existing body of literature. Another approach is to measure the overall rate of harm, which stabilizes as the rate of participation continues to decrease.

As a result of analyzing these impacts, policymakers can better understand what gambling policies are most effective at reducing the cost of gambling. This can then be used to compare gambling policies in different countries.