Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is primarily random in the hopes of winning something else of value. It has existed in virtually every society since prerecorded history and is incorporated into many social activities such as sports, entertainment, and rites of passage. Its negative impacts have been well documented and can harm not only the gambler but also significant others and society as a whole. Positive impacts have been less studied.

Whether or not gambling is a good thing depends on the individual and can include the following benefits:

Learn new skills: Gambling can teach you how to be more observant, mentally task your brain, study patterns and numbers. This can help you develop and improve various skills that can benefit your life, work performance, and health in the long run.

Relieve unpleasant feelings: For some people, gambling can be a way to relieve unpleasant feelings such as boredom, stress, anxiety, or sadness. However, there are healthier ways to cope with these feelings such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and relaxation techniques.

Economic impact: Some research shows that gambling has economic benefits such as job creation and increased consumer spending. It also contributes to the economy of communities and regions through taxes, tourism, and infrastructure improvements funded by gambling revenues. It can also cause indirect economic benefits such as reduced crime and higher levels of productivity in the gambling industry.

Gambling can have a negative effect on a person’s relationships, finances, mental and physical health, and work performance. It is important to recognise the signs and seek help if you are worried about someone’s gambling.

Those who have a gambling disorder may experience a variety of symptoms including an inability to stop gambling, loss of control, and excessive thinking about gambling. It is a complex disorder that affects many aspects of a person’s life. Problem gambling is a mental illness and can be treated like any other mental illness.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralised using a conceptual model with classes for costs and benefits. Costs can be categorized as personal, interpersonal, and society/community level, while benefits are grouped into financial, labor and health, and well-being classes. The personal and interpersonal level costs of gambling are monetary, while the external costs at the society/community level are mostly non-monetary.