Homelessness and gambling are often linked, although the causal relationship between the two is unclear. Gambling is often cited as a contributing factor to homelessness, and 82% of problem gamblers said that the two had occurred before one became homeless. The problem of gambling may even be a risk factor for homelessness. For many, the impact of homelessness is a motivation to get better. However, the costs and consequences of gambling may not be the only reasons for getting into trouble.
While gambling is an immensely popular activity, there are many social and economic costs associated with it. These include economic costs and benefits of problem gambling, as well as social inequality. Studies have found that if gambling is widespread, its negative effects are greater than those associated with limited gambling. The “adaptation hypothesis” suggests that gambling’s negative effects are greater when gambling is first introduced but decrease as the population becomes accustomed to it. Recent studies, however, show that the negative impact of gambling tends to stabilize when participation drops, and in some cases, increase.
The costs of gambling are difficult to quantify, because there are no clear causal relationships. Some gambling problems result from life circumstances, while others are related to disorders. However, the majority of studies discount gambling costs by applying a causality adjustment factor. In a 1999 study, the Australian Productivity Commission devised a method that estimated the cost of problem gambling by assuming that 80% of problem gamblers would have suffered the same consequences without gambling.
The benefits of gambling extend far beyond money. It is known to improve social skills. For example, learning a new game, such as blackjack, requires a lot of skill. Moreover, learning the rules of the game and devising a strategy helps you stay mentally fit. Not only that, gambling is also a great way to relax and socialize. Moreover, some studies have shown that it reduces crime rates in some communities.
The reasons people choose to gamble are not always the same. While younger gamblers report primary motivations as winning money, older gamblers report their primary reasons as combating boredom, erasing social isolation, or relieving tension or depression. Many participants in our study cited these reasons as primary motivations. The differences in motivation between young and old gamblers are striking. Further research is needed to determine which factors are common among problem and nonproblem gamblers.
If you feel that you are unable to control your gambling, it may be time to seek treatment for gambling addiction. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available, including counseling, family therapy, and career and credit counseling. While it may be difficult to convince a friend or family member to participate in treatment, it can help to understand what is driving a person to gamble and to learn how to stop. Treatment for gambling addiction should begin as early as possible, as the first symptoms can often develop long before professional help is needed.