Are people who gamble happier than the ones who abstain from it?

#Gambling and betting markets are widely expanding, therefore it is important to understand its effects on wellbeing. It is known that excessive gambling or losses cause irritability when not gambling, escapism, denial of behavior to family, committing a crime for supporting the activity, disruption to relationships, and financial stress.

Gambling advertising portrays gambling as a happiness-generating leisure activity and focuses on the thrill of the win or the life-changing aspects that can happen after big wins. The gambling industries also put images of smiling people in casino tables or gaming machines. But are people who gamble happier than the ones who abstain from it?

It is believed that people who enjoy gambling will continue to participate up to the point which they no longer derive positive utility from this activity. But gambling is addictive and individuals may not be able to transfer their consumption to other activities/products if the impulse to gamble is sufficiently strong. Therefore, their participation may go beyond the point which it stops generating positive utility that may cause an inverse relationship between gambling disorder and subjective wellbeing


Dixon et al. (2010), found that the participation of the elderly in bingo, outside the home, was positively associated with happiness. Whereas according to Vander Bilt et al. (2004), emotional responses such as, smiling were observe while individuals engaged in the act of simulated gambling on a laptop.

On the other hand, Shiue (2015) found that self-reported gambling addicts were most likely to report fair to poor self-rated health and fair to poor self-rated happiness relative to the rest of the population. Moreover, the suicidal attempts due to gambling clearly show a lack of happiness or satisfaction with one’s life. Therefore, it is suggested that the legalized gambling leads to elevated suicide levels in local populations and among visitors to locations associated with high levels of gambling activities.

According to J Gambl Stud (2018), those at risk of developing a gambling disorder and pathological gamblers as well as those with a clinically defined gambling disorder, show statistically lower levels of happiness than abstainers. Moreover, the transition from being a social gambler to being at risk of developing a gambling disorder has important implications for the general happiness. Therefore, it is suggested that public health policies aimed at harm minimization should focus on the transitions between different types of gamblers and better understanding of the pathways to pathological and problem gambling.

Source: Understanding the Relationship Between Subjective Wellbeing and Gambling Behavior.
J Gambl Stud (2018)
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