Gambling Related Harms: Social Harms

At the gambling table, there are no fathers and sons

While gambling has the potential to generate revenue and serve as a source of entertainment, its social harms in Nigeria are substantial and cannot be ignored. The effects of gambling addiction are not limited to the individual; they ripple through families, communities and entire economies. The allure of lotteries, sport betting and casino games has captivated a large chunk of the population especially among the youths. Gambling can have significant social harms that extends beyond financial consequences. It is expedient to recognize the potential negative impacts on individuals and communities. Understanding and addressing these issues is crucial in promoting responsible gambling practices and providing support for those in need of help.

According to a 2018 survey by the Nigerian National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), about 75% of Nigerians aged 18-40 engage in some form of gambling. The accessibility of gambling and aggressive advertising targeted at youth have raised concerns about addiction tendencies. As more individuals become addicted to gambling, it can have harmful effects on their mental health, relationships and overall well-being. Addiction can lead to financial instability, strained relationships and a decline in overall quality of life. The rising addiction rate is indeed a significant social harm associated with gambling. Recognizing the impact of gambling addiction and providing support and resources for those affected is crucial in addressing this social harms.

The social fabric of Nigerian families is vulnerable to the detrimental impacts of gambling. When individuals engage in excessive gambling, it can lead to financial strain and loss of resources within the family and this more often than not, results in conflicts over money, trust issues and even dishonesty among family members. The stress caused by these issues can weaken the bonds within the family, leading to disintegration and breakdown of relationships. Research suggests that a significant number of divorces involve gambling related issues. It is also important to note that the impact of gambling on families can vary widely depending on the severity of the gambling problem and the family’s resilience and support systems.

Gambling dens can become breeding grounds for illicit behaviour, ranging from money laundering to involvement in organized crime. When individuals become heavily involved in gambling, they may experience significant financial losses. In order to recoup their losses or maintain their gambling habit, some individuals may resort to illegal activities. This can include engaging in fraud, such as identity theft or insurance scams or participating in theft or embezzlement to obtain funds for gambling. It is necessary to note the potential for these social harms and address the underlying issues related to gambling addiction to prevent the escalation of criminal activities.

Awareness on Gamble Risk Initiative popularly known as Gamble Alert is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for responsible gambling, protects punters and minimize risks to the vulnerable, including the underage and provides clinical assistance and rehabilitation for addicted gamblers. Gamble Alert offers education and resources on responsible gambling practices, such as setting limits, recognizing triggers and seeking help when needed. Conversation Café powered by Gamble Alert is a program that provides individuals a safe and non-judgemental space for them to share their experiences, receive emotional support and learncoping strategies. By fostering a sense of community and understanding, Gamble Alert empowers individuals to avoid gambling related harms by taking control of their gambling habits and making informed decisions.

In conclusion, addressing the social harms associated with gambling requires a collaborative efforts from various Stakeholders. The government has a responsibility to implement effective regulations and policies to protect vulnerable individuals, ensure fair practices and provide funding for prevention and treatment programs. Gaming operators should prioritize responsible gambling measures, such as self-exclusion options and responsible advertising. The Gaming regulators play a crucial role in enforcing compliance and monitoring the industry. Also, Gamble Alert offers vital support and resources for individuals struggling with gambling addiction. Thus, by working together, these entities can help mitigate the social harms and promote responsible gambling practices in our societies.

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