Measuring the social effects of gambling upon communities is difficult, primarily because of the limited amount of quality data on the social effects and the complexity of establishing a cause-effect relationship between gambling and social problems due to the difficulty of isolating gambling from other factors, such as substance abuse and personality disorders, that cause social problems. NGISC did not report whether gambling leads to an increase in social costs, such as increased family problems, crime, and suicide for the general population. However, NGISC determined that individuals suffering from pathological gambling engaged in the destructive family behavior committed more crime than other citizens, and had higher suicide rates. While NGISC found that these social problems are associated with pathological gambling, quantifying these costs is difficult because of hard-to-measure and hard-to-identify damages or emotional costs, such as the impact of addictive behaviors upon families. Also, because people with gambling disorders often also have other behavior problems, such as substance abuse, social scientists have not been able to isolate the amount of increased social costs caused by gambling.
We found no conclusive evidence on whether or not gambling increased social problems in Atlantic City. Some family problems, including domestic violence and child abuse; crime; and suicide increased during some of the years after the casinos began operating and decreased in others. Some of the individuals we interviewed in New Jersey viewed the casinos, at least partly, as contributing to the increases—with the exception of suicides.
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