The impact of gambling on the economy and society in Canada

The positive and negative aspects of gambling will always be based on the balance of social impacts and economics.

Gambling dates back to ancient civilizations, with roots that can be traced back to even the most archaic societies. Gambling is widespread and socially acceptable in some countries, while in others serious restrictions are imposed, sometimes even a complete ban. Attitudes about this leisure activity among the population and authorities depends on many cultural, economic and political factors. 

Gambling Pros and Cons

On the one hand, gambling plays an important role in society, providing a legitimate outlet for emotions and an alternative to the routine and order of everyday life. 

In addition, games bring considerable economic benefits to the state: a decrease in unemployment, an increase in the average wage, a rise in tax deductions, a boost in the level of competition in the field of recreation and entertainment and  the emergence of new leisure opportunities for consumers. 

On the other hand, gambling can lead to the formation of psychological dependence in individuals. Emotional peaks, the thrill of risk and the joy of winning make players regularly visit casinos and slot machine halls. 

Gambling addiction, in turn, leads to the devaluation of social, professional, material and family values, and has a destructive effect on a person’s ability to work. As with most addictions, the need for additional money to feed it can push a person to commit crimes. 

Researchers representing various scientific fields have long been engaged in studying the attitudes and behaviour of visitors to online gambling establishments, such as casinos, slot machine halls, racetracks, poker clubs, etc.  

Many works have been written on this topic by doctors, psychologists, economists and lawyers. Along with them, there is also a fairly significant layer of sociological literature devoted to the study of the behaviour and attitudes of gamblers. 

American sociologist J. Frey, conducting a review of sociological theories about gambling, proposed to consider them at the macro and micro levels. To the first he attributed the work of functionalists who study gambling behaviour as part of a social structure, to the second — socio-psychological theories that consider gambling behaviour at the individual level. 

Motivation of Gamblers 

There are a lot of trying to pinpoint the appeal of gambling. As a result, various typologies of gambling behaviour motives are distinguished. 

One study classifies the motives of gamblers, identified in the course of empirical research, on the basis of three independent variables: 

  • The focus of the action: the gambling behaviour of players differs depending on whether it is rooted in the game itself or at interaction with other people during the game. The indicator of this criterion is a trip to gambling establishments alone or with company; 
  • the purpose of the action: gambling behaviour can be rooted in the game itself (a game for the sake of the game, a game as an end in itself) or a tool, a means to achieve some other goals; 
  • the nature of the action: the author distinguishes between rational (pragmatic) and emotional (hedonistic) behaviour when visiting gambling establishments. 

One of the most interesting and recent studies divides the motives of gambling behaviour into three main categories: 

  • economic motives are associated with the assumption that the primary drive of a gambler is the desire for monetary gain; 
  • symbolic motives of gambling behaviour include the desire to control one’s own destiny and the thrill of risky behaviour. Risk situations are rare in the social system of order, and the game gives individuals the freedom to choose, gives them the opportunity to make decisions independently, and receive vivid emotions. In this case, the desire to play is considered on a par with love or sexual desire; 

Types of Gambling Behaviour

Hedonistic motives, which the author refers to as an increase in the self-esteem of players during games, as well as the desire for entertainment, relaxation and pure enjoyment of the game process.

Rational gambling behaviour is aimed at the economic gain or at improving one’s own skills. Hedonistic behaviour of players is associated with satisfying their own needs for pleasure, entertainment and self-affirmation. 

At the intersection of these three components (factors), eight different types of gambling behaviours determined by one of several motivations among players. These include: 

  • acquisition of experience, knowledge and skills; 
  • getting thrills; 
  • self-determination, search for identity; 
  • risk acceptance and management; 
  • cognitive self-classification (demonstration of wealth, skills); 
  • emotional self-classification (demonstration of feelings, emotions), competition, competitive struggle; 
  • communication, rest in the company of friends. 

Final Thoughts

Reviewing numerous works and studies of economists, psychologists, psychiatrists and sociologists formed a typology of gambling behaviour motives. We can say that the gambling sector has a great impact on all areas of human life, but especially on social and economic spheres.