Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value (money, property, or other valuables) on a game of chance with the intention of winning. It is a common pastime for many individuals and provides enjoyment to the vast majority of participants. However, for a small group of people, gambling can become problematic and cause significant negative personal, family, social, work, and financial consequences.

The impacts of gambling can be structuralized using a conceptual model that categorizes benefits and costs into three classes: financial, labor, and health and well-being. Financial impacts include changes in economic activities and costs associated with gambling, such as gambling revenues, tourism impacts, and changes in infrastructure cost or value. Labor impacts include gambling-related changes in employment, including job gains, losses, and changes in performance. Health and well-being impacts are a result of the impact of gambling on physical, psychological, and social functioning and well-being.

Gambling has the potential to have positive impacts on society, such as increased revenue for public services, infrastructure improvements, and support for local businesses through partnerships and sponsorships. These types of benefits are difficult to measure, and research into them is limited. In contrast, the research on negative effects is more extensive. However, research that focuses solely on problematic or pathological gambling is limited in scope and underestimates the full range of harms caused by gambling. For this reason, a public health approach to the study of gambling is important.