While gambling is an incredibly popular hobby, its impact on society is far-reaching. While it generates enormous revenues for gambling venues, few studies have investigated its positive impacts on consumers. But researchers are now able to measure gambling’s negative impacts by estimating health-related quality of life weights, otherwise known as disability weights. These health-related quality of life weights are measures of the per-person burden of health on a consumer’s quality of life. In addition to assessing gambling’s negative impact on the individual, these weights have been used to understand the intangible social costs that affect the gambler’s family, friends, and community.
While these costs are largely non-monetary, they are important for understanding how gambling affects the social fabric of society. Oftentimes, gambling affects not only a single individual, but also a community or society. For instance, an individual who gambles may spend more money on gambling services than he or she would otherwise spend on other activities. These costs are generally invisible, but they can become visible with the passage of time. Consequently, governments must allocate public resources to gambling research and professional training.
While gambling is widespread in the United States, federal and state regulations limit its locations and methods. Most states have laws that govern the minimum age at which people can gamble, and some even regulate the extent of gambling in certain Native American reservations. The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act also regulates the extent of gambling on Indian reservations. However, it is unclear when federal laws will be applied to Internet gambling. The goal should be to limit the influence of gambling in a way that makes sense for the individual.