Economic Studies of Gambling

Gambling is placing something of value, usually money, on an event that has an element of chance in the outcome, with the potential to win a substantial prize. A wager may be made on a variety of events or specific games such as lotteries, cards, bingo, slots, machines, instant scratch tickets, horse races, animal tracks, dice, and roulett.

In some cases, skills or knowledge on the part of the bettor can also contribute to winnings or losses, such as in stock market gambling. Life insurance policies are considered to be a form of gambling as well, in that the payment of premiums is based on actuarial data on the probability that one will die within a specified time.

Economic studies of gambling are primarily concerned with the identification and quantification of benefits and costs. This can be a difficult task, especially for the intangible effects that are not readily apparent or can be measured directly in dollar terms. These intangibles can include expenditure substitution, real and transfer effects, and the impacts of a casino facility on other local amenities (e.g., the construction of a casino facility might destroy a wetland and require its replacement somewhere else).

While most people gamble responsibly and find it an entertaining diversion, about 20 percent overindulge, incurring debts that impair their ability to support themselves and their families unless they stop gambling. If you are struggling with a gambling addiction, seek help from professionals and strengthen your support network. You can do this by reaching out to friends and family, joining a book club or sports team, or volunteering for a good cause. You can also join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and provides guidance for staying sober.

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