The American psychiatric association considers gambling as a form of an impulse control disorder with the patient having an uncontrollable urge to bet in the hope of making additional money. Gambling is becoming a very common practice as most states rush to legalize gambling as a form of an economic venture. There are a number of benefits to be accrued through gambling but as most scholars have alluded, there are immense social and economic costs involved. The history of gambling dates back to eternity and the holy books of Christians and Jews contain evidence of gambling.
Islam has come out outstandingly as one of the religion that has categorically prohibited gambling. Most of the scholarly materials present have paid attention to the effects of gambling neglecting the causes. Few however have been able to hypothesize on the causes often alluding to biological and social causes. Dopamine has been implicated as one of the possible biochemical possible for gambling. According to Rosner & Hermes (109), scientists have “found that the use of some forms of dopamine causes compulsive gambling even when this compulsion did not exist prior to the use of dopamine.
” Others have also pointed out that a sudden change in the way the brain functions may cause behavioral and attitude change leading to addictive habits such as gambling. Another lead cause of gambling as with other forms of addictions such as alcohol and drugs is peer influence. Friends and work colleagues may influence an individual to engage in gambling leading to the development of a compulsive urge to gamble. Where research on the causes of gambling is still ongoing to establish whether there is a genetic predisposition to the habit, immense studies on the effects exist with most research pointing to the negative side of gambling.
There has been a flurry of opinions in regard it whether indeed gambling leads to economic benefits or not. There are a number of economic benefits to be realized especially in places where casinos are localized. Casinos for example offer ample employment opportunities to the community and also act as important recreation facilities. A look at Las Vegas indicates it is home to thousands of workers. Additionally, extra revenue is racked from tourism as some gambling centers are attractive sites for tourists. More income is generated from the influx of visitors who consume local products.
Most analysts agree that this is the furthest that the benefits of gambling extend as the other side of the coin is laden with adverse economic effects both to the individual and to the society at large. Gambling has been identified as the lead cause of bankruptcy. The existing research on the issue indicates that “about 10% of bankruptcy fillings are linked to gambling losses. ” (Webber). While a large number of people engage in gambling, a smaller portion of this that engage in problem gambling ends up in debts led by the belief that the more they spend the higher their chances of winning.
It is this indebt-ness that might in the end exceed the annual income that will lead to bankruptcy. Though there is still a raging controversy on whether there is a causal link between the two, tentative conclusions have affirmed the link. The available statistics indicate that bankruptcy for example in the United States has been on the increase, what remains interesting is the fact that such bankruptcy has been on the rise in tandem with the increase in the number of state sanctioned gambling centers. Though there are no available statistics to affirm the claims, available data by most organizations has pointed to this.
The lack of adequate national figures to reach the rightful conclusion has been blamed on the reluctance by the victims to reveal the cause of their bankruptcy. Compulsive gambling has been lumped together with drugs and excessive alcohol as a social evil. It is an apparent fact that individuals can be addicted to gambling at chronic levels. Just like addiction to drugs results to mental problems, excessive gambling addiction can lead to psychiatric disorders. This hence leads to additional costs to the society.
The government spends a huge amount of money on rehabilitation programs for addicts and similar programs have been unrolled for compulsive gamblers. Tentative studies have also seen a causal relationship between compulsive gambling and alcohol and drug abuse. Most gamblers after reaching the desperation phase result to deceit and fraud to finance their endeavors. This may result to underperformance at work and consequently loss of jobs. This is the time they crumble into the hopeless phase and resort to drugs and alcohol as a way of escaping the reality and numb the existing pain.
(Grant et al 1) Another problem that has been linked to gambling is suicide. This is an issue that has attracted studies of late. These studies have been keen to unearth the increase in the number of suicides brought forth by the increase on the number of legalized casinos. These suicides are spread between visitors and people residing in cities which are popular for gambling. One of the cities that have attracted a flurry of attention is Las Vegas which has a record of over four times compared to the cities with no gambling ventures.
As has been observed before, gambling occurs in various stages and it is at the desperation phase that a compulsive gambler begins to exhibit anti social behaviors to erase the memories of the constant losses. This leads to excessive alcohol use and drug abuse. This makes the gambler more prone to suicidal behaviors. Studies on the causal relationships between gambling and suicide also found out that suicide is not only limited to the gamblers but also to “spouses of gamblers or children of gamblers who visit gaming settings in the company of a gambling relative.
” (Phillips, Welty & Smith) Others who might be caught in the suicidal web are relatives and residences living in gaming settings but who might be involved in gambling. With the rise in the number of legalized gambling centers, the issue of whether there is a causal relationship between crime and gambling has attracted the interest of research. Most, though tentatively, have alluded to the fact that gambling contributes significantly to the rise in crime levels. It is important to observe here that crime is caused by huge amount of factors that might be present in the gambling cities.
These may range from increased population, high rates if unemployment, availability of guns and the existing gun laws. It is hence difficult to isolate these factors as having a contributive effect on the level of crime. However, the conclusion reached by most studies has indicted that gaming cities have higher incidences of crime. A look at the small population that engage in compulsive gambling indicate that most had a history of either civil or criminal offenses. Due to the indebtness that come with gambling, most are likely to be engaged in theft, fraud, and drugs using casinos as avenues of money laundering.
(Grinols 1) The negative effects of gambling more often than not spills over from the gambler to those that are close to him. Spouses and children are the first to be caught in the crunch. As has been observed, gambling is likely to lead to alcoholism, crime, drug addiction and at a chronic stage, suicide. Whereas most gamblers start betting low using their salaries, savings and finally their family assets, they are in great debt and cannot afford to cater for their family obligations. They also tend to acquire a short temper and may result to violence when queried by their relatives about their gambling habits.
A significant number of marriages have been brought to an end by one of the spouse being a compulsive gambler. Children hence may not thrive well in such an environment and may face financial hardships and drop out if schools. Gambling also passes off huge losses to the society due to increase in crime, increased alcohol and drugs abuse as well as the effects of broken up families. Whereas studies on the causes of gambling are still being carried out, it is apparent that there is unanimity that it results to more social and economic losses than benefits.
Gambling has been found to lead to indebtness, bankruptcy and most likely to suicide. Though it has a number if economic benefits such as extra revenue and employment opportunities, the social ills associated with the practice have led to its criticism. Works Cited Stanley Rosner, Patricia Hermes. The Self-sabotage Cycle: Why We Repeat Behaviors That Create Hardships and Ruin Relationships.
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, 109 Alexander L. Edgar, Ellen L. Triebold, Gambling On Dischargeability. Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from http://www. usdoj. gov/ust/eo/public_affairs/articles/docs/gambling. htm Jon E. Grant, Matt G. Kushner. , and Suck Won Kim. Pathological Gambling and Alcohol Use Disorder, 109. Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from http://pubs. niaaa. nih. gov/publications/arh26-2/143-150. pdf. Christian Marfels. Gambling and Suicide: Evidence from the Las Vegas Market. Gaming Law Review. February 1, 2001, 5(1): 33-41. Earl L. Grinols. Casino gambling causes crime. University of Illinois. Institute of Government and Public Affairs Policy Forum. Volume 13, Number 2, 2000,1
Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from http://netnebraska.org/television/news/ne_connects/gambling/CasinosCrime. pdf. David P. Phillips, Ward Welty, Marisa Smith. Suicide & Life-Threatening` Behavior. Elevated Suicide Levels Associated with Legalized Gambling. University of California at San Diego. December 15, 1997. Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from http://www. responsiblegamblingcouncil. us/articles/Elevated_suicide_levels_associated_with_legalized_gambling. pdf. David Webber. Riverboat Gambling in Missouri: A Risk that should NOT have been Taken. May 1, 2002. Retrieved on February 28, 2009 from http://web. missouri. edu/~webberd/ganbling. memo