Thursday, 9 August 2012

Negative Effects Of Gambling (Updated, August 2012)

By Jackie, Researcher
Topic: Society (Gambling)

The objectives of this research are to find out what are the most common adverse effects of gambling. There are mainly five effects under this discussion: change in behavior; mental and physical health issues; disrupt school or work activities; financial problems; and family and marital disturbance. Each effect is analyzed clearly with practical real-life examples.

Research Essay
INTI International College Subang
Negative Effects Of Gambling

                Adam, a typical middle-aged American, works as an engineer at a construction site in New York. He was married and has two lovely kids. His monthly income is barely sufficient to support his family of four in a moderate way. One day, he heard about the news that his friends had won thousands of dollars by betting in a nearby illegal gambling center. He was so attracted and influenced by the news. After a careful consideration, he had decided to give a try in gambling because if he wins, he can release the financial burden as well as to improve the standard of living of his family. So, he started to gamble. Unfortunately, he became addicted to gambling and his attitudes have changed gradually. He starts to smoke cigarette, drink alcohol and return home lately. His health begins to deteriorate. He suffers from migraine and gastric pain as he did not consumes his meals on time. Due to excess loss of money in gambling, he had borrowed a sum of money from unlicensed loan sharks to settle his gambling debts. The loan’s interest rate was so high until he has to sell off his cars and houses. At work, he was unable to concentrate on his job, often do errors and sometimes absent to work without a valid reason. As a result, he was fired. At home, he always argues and quarrels with his wife over a small matter. Sometimes, his wife gets beaten by him too. Few months later, his wife cannot tolerate with him anymore. As a result, his wife together with his two kids has left him alone. Adam is now jobless and homeless. More and more, addiction to gambling can lead to a change in behaviour, cause serious mental and physical health problems, disrupt school and work activities, increase financial problems, and create disharmony in the family.

Although genetics play an important role in the development of problem gambling in both women and men, 
but the researchers found no evidence of gender differences in the causes of problem gambling.

                Addiction to gambling can lead to a change in mindset, behaviour and attitude. In The Star (‘The adverse effects of gambling’ 2006, p. 23), Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) states that one could become a dishonest person who has to constantly worry about debts. According to MCPF (2006), whenever a gambler becomes obsessed with gambling, the gambler will do anything including criminal activities like robbing and stealing as long as he or she can gamble. According to the article, gambling addiction can cause negative changes on one attitude such as bad-tempered, withdrawn, neglectful, irrational and irresponsible plus adverse changes in habit like tendency to return home lately and increase in alcohol consumption. Meanwhile, lying, making excuses and becoming more secretive are some of the common ways for gamblers to cover up their gambling act and financial problems. A research done by MCPF had shown that gambling can also encourage one to start smoking and taking alcoholic drinks because it can lower down their stress level and pressure. Besides, gamblers also might tend to isolate themselves from their friends and family as a way to hide or carry out their act. However, this will weaken gambler interpersonal interaction and communication with family members and friends, thus creating more misunderstanding and arguments. All in all, gambling is proven to have a tendency to alter one’s thinking and personality.

It is noted that as gambling escalates, other activities become constricted. Social activities, family interactions and leisure pursuits diminish in frequency, quality and satisfaction as the gambler becomes increasingly detached from interpersonal interaction, isolated and encapsulated in her/his own preoccupation with thoughts of the next session of betting/gaming and where to obtain funds to fuel her/his habits (Lesieur, 1979)

Researchers have found out that highly-addicted gamblers usually isolates themselves and like to be alone. 

                Secondly, gambling can cause mental health issues and physical health problems. According to a study conducted by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), mental health issues include stress, anxiety and depression which will actually cause a gambler to have more difficulty to sleep, think and solve problems. So, gamblers will tend to smoke more as well as to increase in alcohol consumption and possible drug usage to solve these problems. The study also shows severe problem gamblers will have a possible risk of self-harming behaviour such as suicide attempt. Petry (2006) states that addicted gamblers will have the possibility to get insomnia, headaches, back or neck pain, high blood pressure, digestive problems and gastric. She says physical health problems of a gamble is normally disrupted by inappropriate eating time, insufficient exercises and unbalanced sleeping hours. Pathological gamblers were more than twice as likely as people without gambling problems to have angina and nearly three times more likely to have liver disease. They were also almost twice as likely to suffer from tachycardia, an excessively rapid heartbeat (US Federal Survey on Psychiatric Disorders 2006). 

One of the reasons why gambler tends to smoke more and increase in
alcohol consumption is to reduce pressure and stress.

                Besides, for students or workers, gambling can also disrupt both school and work activities. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania (CCGP 2003) reported that students who are addicted to gambling will tend to increase unexplained absences from school, use school lunch money for gambling, drop in academic performance, unable to pay attention in class, and interrupt their educational goals. Meanwhile, for gambling-addicted workers, Colorado Lottery (CL 2007) warns that they can disrupt working activities through lost in time, lost in productivity, and in desperate situations, the gambler may resort to theft. Working hours are wasted as gamblers use them for gambling purposes like calling bookies for betting and searching gambling results using company’s computer while productivity is lessen as the gambler becomes unreliable, misses project deadlines and important meeting and produces poor working quality. In addition, the inability and inefficiency in working caused by gambling addiction can lead to dismissal. Meanwhile, severe gambling-addicted workers might resort to theft.

Employees with severe problems may commit theft, fraud or embezzlement. Money is the gambler’s key to action. Once all legitimate avenues to obtain cash are exhausted, the gambler, in desperation, may resort to illegal acts to acquire case. The workplace becomes a primary avenue for the gambler to illegally finance their gambling. Gamblers do not see this activity as stealing. They see it as “borrowing money” and plan to replace it when they win (Oregon Department of Human Services 2007).
                Another common adverse effect of addiction on gambling is financial problems. Oak (2009) claims that if a gambling-addicted worker is fired from his or her job, then he or she will lose his or her main source of income due to job loss. Consequently, this will lead to an inability to pay bills, expenses and loans. On the other hand, banks might blacklist poor payment gamblers account but this does not stopped them to borrow money from loan sharks or illegal moneylenders to cover losses and continue betting. For instance, many loan shark cases have been reported in Malaysia during recent FIFA World Cup matches where some gamblers have to sell off their assets like houses and cars to settle off their debts. Severe loss of money in gambling can results in bankruptcy.

Financial problems are the most common effect of gambling. 

Family and marital disturbances are a common end result of a seriously addicted gambler. Lorenz and Shuttleworth (1993) highlighted that fluctuation in mood states, lying and failure to meet obligation lead to marital friction and family disharmony. They found out that unchanged bad attitudes, repeated deceit and broken promises will undermine the sense of trust of a spouse towards the gambler. Meanwhile, they also point out that lack of funds to support children and the home, potential loss of assets and savings, frequent absences at home and neglecting family members can lead to frequent arguments and separation.

Family quarrel usually will happen where the gamblers used to be blamed for causing family and 
marital disturbances, and the most innocent party in this kind of situation is their kids.

In conclusion, these are the five major consequences that can happen frequently in highly-addicted gamblers. As we can see it, the degree of severity depends on how addicted a gambler is which could be found through a change in character as well as other adverse effects caused by them. Many people agree that gambling will not only affect the gambler alone but also creates a lot of trouble to his or her friends and family as well as to the society and community. However, the consequences caused by gambling can be avoided via personal awareness or by getting involved in other more beneficial and meaningful activities. Among the suggestions is to focus on spiritual development, take up sports or a hobby, or do some charity work. Therefore, it is important for us to limit or control, but the best is to avoid gambling activities.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) 2010, The effects of gambling on family, viewed 24 July 2012,
Colorado Lottery (CL) 2007, Problem gambling and the workplace, viewed 24 July 2012,
Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania (CCGP 2003), Talking to students about gambling, viewed 24 July 2012,
Lesieur, H 1979, Psychiatry: The compulsive gambler’s spiral of option and involvement, pp.79-87.
Lorenz, V & Shuttleworth, D 1983, The impact of pathological gambling on the spouse of the gambler, Journal of Community Psychology, vol.11, pp.67-76. 
Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) 2006, The adverse effects of gambling, viewed 7 July 2012,
Oak, M 2009, Negative effects of gambling, viewed 25 July 2012,
Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) 2007, Problem gambling on the job. How you can help your work force, p.2, viewed 24 July 2012,
Petry, N 2006, Problem gamblers may have poorer health, viewed 25 July 2012,


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