While economic costs and benefits of gambling have been the focus of most studies, social costs and impacts have largely been ignored. This is largely due to a lack of consensus about the concept of social costs and benefits. Williams et al. and Walker and Barnett define social costs as the cost of gambling that causes harm to someone else and benefits no one, as opposed to an individual. However, the social costs and benefits of gambling are not the same as those of other types of social harm.

Problem gambling

While the term “problem gambling” is used widely, there are some key differences between it and pathological gambling. SSRIs (sustain-release lithium) are commonly used to treat pathological gambling, and the opioid antagonist drug nalmefene is being trialled to treat compulsive and pathological gambling. A person who is antisocial is more likely to engage in antisocial activities, including gambling. While impulsivity and problem gambling are not necessarily mutually exclusive, these two factors contribute to the emergence of these disorders.

Impacts on society

While gambling is a popular pastime, there are significant negative impacts of this activity on society. Addictions to gambling and social pressures associated with them have a negative impact on society. In some cases, gambling has negative effects on a person’s health and relationships. Other negative effects of gambling are associated with advertising, which misleads the public and makes them believe that gambling can help them achieve social status. Ads should be truthful in order to prevent societal ill effects.


There are various treatment options available for individuals with gambling addiction. Some of these include behavioral therapy, which helps correct cognitive distortions and reduce the urge to gamble. Self-help groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, also offer help. Some types of medication may be prescribed, thereby reducing the symptoms of addiction. Some of these medications include naltrexone and antidepressants. The main goal of gambling treatment is to help individuals stop gambling for good.


The costs of gambling have two types: direct and indirect. Direct costs are those that occur due to actual gambling activity. These include financial losses, but also the loss of quality of life. Indirect costs refer to the value of resources that are not created. Time is one of these resources, and thus has an alternative cost. An hour of lost production corresponds to the value of the work carried out. The amount of lost production is equivalent to an hour’s gross salary plus social security contributions. Social security costs do not include the value of transfer payments within the social system.


Prevention of gambling can have a significant impact on reducing harm. The determinants of behaviour of individuals with gambling problems vary, but many research studies suggest that these problems tend to begin during adolescence. Adolescents have limited cognitive ability, which makes them more likely to engage in problem gambling. As a result, prevention initiatives aimed at this age group are particularly important. Although scientific evidence for these initiatives is limited, prevention is increasingly recognized as an important aspect of harm reduction.