How Does Gambling Affect Society?

Ever since the federal ban was lifted on sports betting in 2018, regulated states have been issuing monthly figures regarding record breaking revenues from gambling. They’re reported like scores from the very sports they’re making money from. While a portion of gambling tax revenues are allocated towards important community programs (by some states more than others) many Americans are wondering if the harm to our communities far outweighs the benefits. How does gambling affect society in the United States? While there is no clear cut conclusion to the cost-benefit analysis, we can address your query with a list of known consequences (many of which cooccur) that problem gambling imparts upon the country. Whether directly or indirectly, they all involve compromised mental and behavioral health. Let’s review.

7 Consequences That Compulsive Gambling is Known to Contribute to and Have on Society in America

Increased Public Debt

It should come as no surprise that debt is one of the biggest consequences of gambling on society. Consider that 20% of sports bettors have been or are in debt, and that for the bulk of problem gamblers (males) the debt load from casino gaming and sports betting ranges between $55,000 and $90,000. When the number of individuals who are in a financial hole due to gambling are taken collectively, it becomes clear that America is facing a financial crisis. View more on gambling debt in America right here.

Increased Crime Rates in Communities

To cover losses and debt from gambling, a number of problem gamblers turn to theft which inflates crime rates throughout the United States. This theft is not solely relegated to the dark alleys behind brick-and-mortar casinos and within family households. It’s happening to small, medium, and large businesses as employees embezzle millions of dollars from organizations, customers, and clients to get out of gambling debt. View more on gambling theft’s impact on society.

Increased Public Physical Health Problems

As alluded to in the introduction, problem gambling is a mental and behavioral health crisis that Kindbridge is at the forefront of reporting on. If a societal mental health crisis isn’t enough of a consequence to make the public demand more from regulators, take note that it can be considered a physical health crisis too. Problem gambling can contribute to the following physical health issues:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Unhealthy weight gain
  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • Compromised libido
  • Chronic pain

Additional health care costs due to chronic pain in the United States already ranges between $261 to $300 billion per annum. Meanwhile, obesity burdens the American healthcare system to the tune of nearly $150 billion per year. Any contributing factors, no matter how proportionately small, is of concern.

Increased Divorce Rates

The United States doesn’t lead the world in divorce rates, but it’s generally in the top ten, especially among developed nations. If gambling rates continue to grow with the proliferation of sports betting and online gaming our society may indeed lead in this unfortunate category.

You see, divorce rates for marriages where one spouse has a gambling problem are alarmingly high. The U.S. divorce rate of those who gamble regularly is 31%, compared to 21% of those who rarely or never gamble. Another study found that 65% of marriages where one partner has a gambling problem end in divorce. View more gambling and divorce statistics.

Increased Suicide Rates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that deaths by suicide in the USA are at their highest in more than 80 years, at over 14 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. To reiterate what we stated above regarding divorce – if gambling rates continue to grow with the rise of sports betting and online gaming our society may lead in this tragic category as well. Research finds that 28% of problem gamblers have suicidal thoughts while 42% of high risk gamblers have wished they were dead. These are just two data points regarding gambling related suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-harm that society needs to know about. View more on gambling suicide statistics.

Increased Veteran Homelessness

While general population homelessness is a logical conclusion to gambling related debt, criminal activity, loss of familial support systems, and compromised mental health, we must draw specific attention to military veterans. They account for 11% of all homeless in America and are 2x more likely to become homeless compared to those who haven’t served in the military.

Service related physical disabilities in addition to PTSD and other behavioral health disorders are most certainly a contributing factor, but research shows that problem gambling could be another causation:

“Studies find that gambling among military is 3.5 times higher than among civilians, and that the rate of problem gambling among military is nearly 69 percent compared with almost 19 percent among civilians. Among the long list of dangers of sports betting and casino gaming, are large levels of debt in addition to job loss, and legal issues, which logically all contribute to an inflated risk of homelessness. Furthermore, medications used to manage symptoms of the same affective disorders referenced in the introduction (bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) are known to increase the risk of problematic gambling behavior. A vicious cycle, indeed.”

Why Are So Many Veterans Homeless

George Washington once said, “A nation is judged by how well it treats its veterans”. What does it say about our society if we continue to let problem gambling run rampant amongst our nation’s greatest defenders?

Damaged Reputation of America’s Favorite Pastimes

“This is why can’t we have nice things” is what many NFL, NCAA, NBA, MLB, and NHL fans in America felt like saying when federal and state regulators got involved to lift the ban on sports betting. Now, game previews and recaps read like betting slips as sports journalists, broadcasters, and commentators make headlines out of point spreads and parlays. Then there is the relentless onslaught of ads for online sportsbooks and casinos that run before, during, and after each and every game. If all of this weren’t enough to ruin sports for non-gamblers, then the scandals just might. America’s favorite athletes from America’s favorite pastimes are getting caught up in the barbwire of league gambling policy violations. It has cost suspensions and careers for NCAA and professional league players alike. More recently, violations have embroiled the most popular (and highest paid) baseball player of all time in a major gambling scandal. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that athlete, organization, and league reputations are being dragged through the mud.

Proponents of sports betting state that gambling increases interest and engagement in games and events. We can”t argue with that, but we have to ask – at what cost? Is America prepared to sacrifice the once wondrous and healing nature that sports fandom has had on our country for more than a century?

“The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible. After all, is football a game or a religion? The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand”,

Howard Cosell

If sports betting was legalized during Howard Cosell’s day, he may have maintained his original profession as a lawyer, for ethical reasons.

We’ll let the reader come to their own conclusions about whether or not the consequences of gambling weigh heavier than the benefits afforded society via tax revenues (and job creation). Our mission, is instead to be there for those who are negatively impacted by a problematic relationship with the activity. If you’re among them, reach out via the contacts provided below.

Has Gambling Had a Negative Impact on Your Life?

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


Email [email protected]

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