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Ongoing Challenges in Research on the Social Costs of Gambling

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Chapter Summary

The worldwide gambling industry has provided a fascinating topic for researchers in economics, medicine, political science, psychology, and sociology. One problem is the fact that gambling research is important for policy decisions. Aside from the potential for researcher bias, there are at least two other major causes of problems in the literature. First, there are clearly some poor research practices evident in the literature. Second, there are inherent difficulties in measuring costs and benefits related to legalized gambling. These issues are focused in this chapter. There are several major problems inherent in social cost estimation. These problems exacerbate whatever "poor research practices" may exist in the gambling research field. The four issues discussed in the chapter are comorbidity, survey research, government expenditures, and counterfactual scenarios. In many ways, the problem gambling literature parallels the substance abuse literature, which essentially reflects a "cost-of-illness" approach.

Keywords: comorbidity; cost-of-illness approach; gambling research; government expenditures; social cost estimation; survey research



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