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Gambling is any risky behaviour that involves a person or a group placing a bet on something of value, often based on a random event. This can include gambling on a football team, playing scratchcards, betting with friends and more.

Despite the negative aspects of gambling, it is a common practice among people in many countries. It can be enjoyed as a social activity, or it can become an obsession that causes problems in a person’s life.

The effects of gambling can be structuralized in a conceptual model, where impacts are divided into negative and positive; costs and benefits. Costs are categorized into three classes: financial, labor and health, and well-being. These classes manifest on personal, interpersonal, and societal levels (Fig.1).

Impacts at the personal level relate to gamblers themselves and their family members. Interpersonal impacts affect the gambler’s relationships with his or her friends, colleagues and workmates. Similarly, societal/community level impacts concern the people around the gamblers, including other family members and the community at large.

Several methodological challenges have been encountered when analyzing the social impacts of gambling. These include the difficulty in identifying and quantifying these nonmonetary costs. Nevertheless, these costs are important in understanding the social consequences of gambling. These costs are not readily accessible in monetary terms and include the hidden effects of gambling on a person’s life, such as emotional stress, relationship difficulties and financial strain. These can cause problems that may be difficult to treat.