The social and economic impacts of gambling


There has been considerable debate about the best methodological and theoretical approach to analyzing the social and economic impacts of gambling, with one of the central issues being how to aggregate the social impacts with the financial impacts to arrive at an overall summative measure. However, there is no reliable way of doing this. Judging the overall positive or negative nature of gambling will always be a subjective determination about the relative importance of the observed social impacts compared to the observed economic impacts. This does not mean that high quality socioeconomic analyses of gambling cannot be conducted. Rather, there are many basic principles for conducting socioeconomic impact studies that can ensure that the obtained results are comprehensive, provide a meaningful accounting of the social impacts of gambling, and are scientifically rigorous. These principles are outlined in the first section of this report. In light of these methodological principles, the second section of this report provided an exhaustive review of what is known about the social and economic impacts of gambling, including a compilation of 492 studies on this topic, and a summary of the findings of these studies in a series of tables organized by impact area and type of gambling. These Summary Tables provide a useful documentation of which types of gambling have been most and least studied, the types of impacts that have been most and least studied, and the general pattern of results in terms of whether a particular form of gambling has found increases, decreases, no impact, or just changes in that impact area. Additionally, these tables provide a reference source for other researchers who may wish to conduct even more in-depth analyses of specific domains or types of gambling.

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