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Complicating such analysis, however, is the fact that social and economic effects can be difficult to measure.This is especially true for intangible social costs, such as emotional pain and other losses experienced by family members of a pathological gambler, and the productivity losses of employees who are pathological or problem gamblers.Many families of pathological gamblers suffer from a variety of financial, physical, and emotional problems (Abbott et al., 1995; Boreham et al., 1996; Lorenz and Yafee, 1986).
The important question, from a public policy perspective, is which is larger and by how much.
Clearly, to address this and related policy issues, the economic and social costs of pathological gambling need to be considered in the context of the overall impact that gambling has on society.
The benefits are borne out in reports, for example, of increased employment and income, increased tax revenues, enhanced tourism and recreational opportunities, and rising property values (e.g., Eadington, 1984; Filby and Harvey, 1988; Chadbourne et al., 1997, Oddo, 1997).
American Indian communities in particular, both on and off reservations, reportedly have realized positive social and economic effects from gambling "that far outweigh the negative" (Cornell et al., 1998:iv; see also Anders, 1996; Cozzetto 1995).
Beneficial effects can also be difficult to measure and, as with costs, can vary in type and magnitude across time and gambling venues, as well as type of gambling (e.g., lotteries, land-based casinos, riverboat casinos, bingo, pari-mutuel gambling, offtrack betting, sports betting).
Ideally, the fundamental benefit-versus-cost question should be asked for each form of gambling and should take into consideration such economic factors as real costs versus economic transfers, tangible and intangible effects, direct and indirect effects, present and future values (i.e., discounting), and gains and losses experienced by different groups in various settings (Gramlich, 199).
In a similar study, Lorenz and Yaffee (1988) found that the spouses of pathological gamblers suffered from chronic or severe headaches, stomach problems, dizziness, and breathing difficulties, in addition to emotional problems of anger, depression, and isolation.
Jacobs and colleagues (1989) compared children who characterized their parents as compulsive gamblers with those who reported their parents as having no gambling problems.
sequences of living with a pathological gambler can range from bad credit and legal difficulties to complete bankruptcy.
Lorenz and Shuttlesworth (1983) surveyed the spouses of compulsive gamblers at Gam-Anon, the family component of Gamblers Anonymous, and found that most of them had serious emotional problems and had resorted to drinking, smoking, overeating, and impulse spending.