States around America are growing increasingly lenient on gambling. Along with online gambling, casino gambling has become more popular. The National Academics of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report discussing the social and economic effects of gambling in the United States. While casinos and other forms of gambling can bring in revenue and create jobs, they are not without their social costs. Some of these costs include “traffic congestion, demand for more public infrastructure or services (roads, schools, police, fire protection, etc.), environmental effects, displacement of local residents, increased crime and pathological or problem gambling.”
With its growing popularity, a gambling bill passed allowing for the construction of six commercial casinos in Illinois this past summer. Illinois is one of numerous states to allow for more commercial casinos recently. In Texas, HB 3043 was proposed to establish twelve commercial casinos but was eventually vetoed.
The American Psychiatric Association defines a gambling disorder as repeated problematic gambling behavior that causes significant problems or distress. Gambling addictions can lead to financial issues, inability to obtain or maintain employment, family instability and even an increased risk of suicide.
Addictions to gambling affect more people than just the individual with the problem. A report from the Gordon Moody Association found that, on average, for every problem gamer, there are 10 other people negatively impacted by their behavior. This includes colleagues, friends and especially family members.
Currently, Georgia is ranked 36th for gambling addiction in the nation, but addiction isn’t the only problem.
In recent years, human trafficking has become a prominent issue in the United States. Victims of sex trafficking work in many industries; therefore, it can be difficult to spot signs of exploitation. Commercial sites such as casinos create potential hubs for young women and men to be taken advantage of.
Even in such states as Georgia where casino gambling is prohibited, human trafficking rates remain high with the amount of commercial activity in cities such as Atlanta. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, Atlanta ranks number two in calls per capita, with 317 calls regarding trafficking incidents from 2007 to 2016.
In many states however, casino gambling is only permitted to Native American tribes. According to Debra Kol, this leaves native women at risk as they are “hot commodities” for trafficking. Native Americans are at higher risk in tribal casinos due to the difficulty with implementing trafficking laws and mandating employees to recognize and report signs of trafficking. Cindy McCain has stated that she has “witnessed with my own eyes six little girls lined up against a wall in a casino outside of Phoenix on display for customers.”
Human trafficking also comes with its long list of repercussions, psychologically and physically. Mental health after experiencing this level of sexual abuse can lead to a long road of recovery with symptoms of PTSD, depression, substance abuse and much more. Stockholm syndrome is another common illness that victims experience. They fear their abuser will physically harm or kill them if they leave. Trauma-specific counseling builds long-term relationships that empowers victims to trust others, improve self-esteem, and reconnect with themselves and society. Victims also suffer in a much more visible way. Many victims experience violence through beatings, starvation, broken bones, burns, etc. They may also become pregnant and forced into having an unsafe abortion or may be transmitted an STD from forced commercial sex.
While gambling may provide jobs and revenue that contribute to a number of funds (education, healthcare, etc.), its negative social effects outweigh its monetary contributions.
 Barnas, Joe. “What You Need to Know about Illinois’ Gambling Expansion.” Illinois Policy, 10 July 2019, www.illinoispolicy.org/what-you-need-to-know-about-illinois-gambling-expansion/
 “What Is Gambling Disorder?” What Is Gambling Disorder?, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/gambling-disorder/what-is-gambling-disorder
 “The Social Impact of Problem Gambling.” Gordon Moody Association, 19 Sept. 2018, www.gordonmoody.org.uk/blog/the-social-impact-of-problem-gambling
 McCann, Adam. “Most Gambling-Addicted States.” WalletHub, 23 Apr. 2019, wallethub.com/edu/states-most-addicted-to-gambling/20846/
 Fischer, H. (2017). Child Trafficking: Seeing and Responding. (pp. 1–4). Love 146 End Child Trafficking and Exploitation. https://love146.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/CTCopyofHospitalityMgmtPacket.pdf
 National Human Trafficking Hotline. (Sep, 2017). Ranking Of The 100 Most Populous U.S. Cities. (p. 1). https://humantraffickinghotline.org/sites/default/files/100%20Most%20Populous%20Cities%20Report.pdf
 Identifying, tracking and preventing human trafficking in Indian Country. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/news/identifying-tracking-and-preventing-human-trafficking-in-indian-country-R7-ddTjS7E6XVGX_nN42dw/
 Trafficking in Tribal Nations: the impact of sex trafficking on Native Americans. (2018, January 22). Retrieved from https://humantraffickingsearch.org/traffickingofnativeamericans/
 Hampton, T.-L. (2019, February 4). Sex Trafficking: impact on victim’s mental & physical health. Retrieved from https://medium.com/spartan-writers/sex-trafficking-impact-on-victims-mental-physical-health-f74e1dd61df2
 Kaylor, L. (2015). Psychological Impact of Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery Worldwide: Empowerment and Intervention. (p. 4–5). https://www.apa.org/international/pi/2015/09/leah-kaylor.pdf
 IBID (p. 3).
Written by: Vivian Bridges and Kate Thompson