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The Role of Gambling in the Culture of Different Countries

While there is considerable international evidence - albeit of variable quality - on the social impact of gambling, the evidence base for the UK, and especially for Scotland, is virtually non-existent. In addition, as noted, most of the available material is methodologically weak and open to interpretation. The social implications of gambling, and especially casino gambling, are even less obvious than the economic implications for quantification, and to date, many studies have produced inconclusive or conflicting results.

Individuals with gambling problems often face a number of other problems, including drug and alcohol problems, and mental health problems in so-called “companion” relationships. For example, the Australian Productivity Committee reported that about one in five serious problem gamblers suffers from alcoholism or other addictions. Other studies have found similarly increased rates of conditions such as alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health problems, homelessness, and criminal behavior. Because of this, it is often difficult to separate the effects of gambling from a number of other factors. While the problem of gambling can exacerbate other addictions, they in turn can exacerbate the problem of gambling. A variety of social consequences are associated with the problem of gambling, and they are discussed here.

Social and personal consequences

The Australian Productivity Commission found that every person who is a problem gambler affects between five and ten people, including spouses, children and other family members, friends, employees, and employers, as well as those with financial relationships. The financial stress, lies, and arguments that can arise around problem gamblers place significant pressure on families, with one in ten Australian gambling gamblers saying their behavior has led to a breakdown, and one in ten of those who have consulted led to domestic violence. In Australia, the problem of gambling is estimated at about 1,600 divorces a year. Decreased family stability and household income can also affect the children of problem gamblers, who may exhibit behavioral problems and problems in school (PC 7.1-7.33).

Other studies support these results. For example, children of problem gamblers have been found to have higher than usual drug use, more psychosocial problems, and more problems at school than others (Jacobs et al 1989). Problem gamblers' wives report higher rates of depression, verbal and physical abuse, and attempted suicide (Lorenz and Jaffee 1988). When people are preoccupied with finding the time and money to play, their work lives tend to suffer, although Australian evidence found that the consequences were relatively minor. While 50% of serious problem gamblers in counseling reported losing time at work due to gambling, most of those with less severe problems reported rarely wasting time at work, with only about 19% doing so.

Financial problems and debt

For obvious reasons, troubled players are more likely to face financial problems. A British study of casino patrons found that 87% of serious problem gamblers and 65% of problem gamblers were forced to turn to others to get rid of a desperate financial situation caused by gambling, while none of the social gamblers did (Fischer 1996) ... Forty percent of harsh and 52% of troubled gamblers sold their property to pay off gambling debts, compared with 2% of social gamblers.

Forty-six percent of harsh and 25% of problem gamblers committed illegal activities to gamble and/or pay for gambling, compared to only 1% of social gamblers. In the United States, the average debt level of problem gamblers receiving treatment from GamCare in 2003 was £ 28,000 (GamCare Services Report 2003). A NORC poll found that nearly 20% of pathological gamblers were filed for bankruptcy, compared with 5.5% for low-risk gamblers and 4.2% for non-gamblers. A similar percentage - 22% - of Gamblers' anonymous members have filed for bankruptcy (NGISC 1999: 7-16).

The social consequences of casinos

Research that looked at the specific effects of casinos rather than gambling, in general, has been outlined earlier (see Sections 4.30 - 4.58 and 4.78 - 4.95). Overall, this study found that the location of a casino within a 50-mile radius (or, in one study, a 10-mile radius) of a person's home roughly doubles the rate of problem gambling. This relationship has been measured in prevalence studies and is also supported by indicators of problem gambling. games such as calling for helplines and access to treatment. (Gerstein et al. 1999; Welte et al. 2004; Emerson and Laundegran 1996; Volberg 1995).

This section now discusses the impact of casino implementation on individuals and communities. First, it should be emphasized again that casinos are not homogeneous, but differ in a number of factors, including decisive size and geographic location, which can lead to very different consequences. Second, casinos can vary greatly in size from small businesses with disabilities to huge destination casinos, offering an entire getaway. In addition, they are built in a variety of locations, from densely populated metropolitan areas such as Melbourne and Detroit to suburban complexes such as Foxwoods, to relatively sparsely populated areas throughout Canada and the United States, and online casinos hosted in Vietnam.


Large “resort” casinos, which are often located away from human settlements in site-specific locations and include many leisure facilities, can attract a large number of tourists, while smaller casinos, which are often located in more urban or suburban areas environments usually offer fewer opportunities and have less potential to attract tourists.

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