Gambling and Public Health

Although gambling may be a fun and enjoyable social experience, the problem can develop if it becomes too much and takes over the person’s life. Gambling should be limited to an occasional experience and should be regarded as one form of entertainment. Unfortunately, this type of behaviour can quickly spiral out of control without the person’s knowledge, causing a lot of stress. Understanding your reasons for gambling and finding an alternative form of entertainment can help you change your behavior. There are many organisations and individuals that offer help and support to individuals with gambling problems and those whose lives are affected by this problem.

Problems associated with gambling

Among other problems associated with gambling, financial losses and deteriorating relationships are among the first and most noticeable. The disorder also adversely affects partners, family, and communities. The emotional and physical effects of gambling on the family are severe, and they also make the relationship between the partners more difficult to maintain. While it’s difficult to change behavior, there are ways to help the family members cope with the consequences of gambling. The following are some important public health initiatives to help families and couples deal with gambling issues.

Pathological gamblers commonly misuse credit cards, write bad cheques, and borrow money from friends and family to finance their activities. When their destructive habits are persistent, they may even resort to debt and bankruptcy. These unpaid debts are damaging to creditors. Other health problems associated with gambling include ulcers, colitis, and high blood pressure. Some people have even been told they have a gambling problem. While gambling is fun, it can be harmful for your overall health and your family. It is vital to seek help if you notice any of these symptoms.

Legality of gambling in the U.S.

Most states do not restrict gambling, so a recent case in Washington state called for the legalization of social casino games, such as ‘Big Fish’. In the case, the judge ruled that virtual chips are a ‘thing of value’ under state law. Although this ruling eliminated the chance element, states still apply different tests. Regardless of the law, legality of these games should be carefully examined.

Until the year 2000, gambling in the US was illegal in most parts of the continental US. However, more states started to allow various forms of gambling, and now, gambling is legal in 48 states, including New Jersey and Nevada. However, Hawaii and Utah do not permit gambling at all. Although Nevada has been the gambling mecca, most states allow gambling only at licensed casinos. In some states, online gambling is allowed, although there are still restrictions on its usage.

Health effects of gambling

Public health is concerned with preventing and controlling hazards to health. This includes assessing risky gambling behaviours and identifying health outcomes. Traditionally, public health has focused on environmental, occupational and toxicological aspects of health. Gambling also poses a threat to the social network of those involved. However, there is evidence to suggest that gambling is a potentially harmful activity that can be managed with health protection policies. For example, governments can regulate the amount of money people can bet on sports events, and they can also use these data to reduce harmful gambling.

In 2005, Gambling Research Australia published a report assessing the value of gambling screens and identifying factors associated with gambling harm. In this study, the authors identified seven categories of harm related to gambling, including financial loss, relationship disruption, and emotional distress. These categories helped inform prevention programs and policy changes. However, the researchers found that these harms can be difficult to measure, making the need for effective public health policy more urgent. This report highlights the need for government action to reduce harm associated with gambling.