Gambling Harms


Gambling involves placing a bet or stake on an event, game, or contest that has an uncertain outcome. This activity can take place in casinos, lotteries, online, or in private settings. It can be a form of entertainment or it may lead to serious financial and personal problems for people who are addicted to gambling.

Despite the fact that there is a wide range of gambling opportunities available to the public, most of them offer the same basic features: a bet or stake, an outcome, and a prize. Most gamblers gamble for the chance of winning money or other prizes but, as with any other form of risk-taking, there is always a possibility that one could lose a bet or a wager.

Many people who have a problem with gambling experience a number of different harms, from relationship difficulties and financial problems to health issues like depression. The literature on gambling harms is complex and varied and there are some significant limitations in current approaches to defining and measuring harms.

Firstly, it is common for the term “harm” to be conflated with negative consequences of behaviour (either explicitly or implicitly). Neal et al [1] and Currie et al [4] have both highlighted that this is problematic and reflects a wider tendency in the literature to confound outcomes with their cause. It is also the case that in some instances, the same terms are used to refer to both the outcome and the problem behaviour in a single instrument such as the PGSI [7]. This is an issue that requires further exploration.