Saturday, November 16, 2019

The impact of gambling in America Essay Example for Free

The impact of gambling in America Essay The impact of gambling on the United States carries both positive and negative effects into our society and communities. Gambling is a leisure activity that usually provides excitement and fun for its players. Gambling also brings tremendous amounts of money into the economy and provides employment. American cities such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City thrive off of the gaming industry. Sure, gambling can be fun and exciting, but at what point does that fun activity develop into a pathological problem? I will contend that the harmful side- effects of gambling far outweigh any positive aspects. Pathological gambling can destroy families, careers, and lives. The reason why casinos are so successful is because their customers lose money while playing their games. Gambling is a broad subject in definition and is also known as â€Å"betting†. It is defined as â€Å"any behavior involving risking money or property on the outcome of a game, contest, or other event in which the outcome of that activity depends partially or totally upon chance or ones ability to do something† (wikipedia. org). In reality, someone could bet or gamble on just about anything. For example, I recently stumbled upon an online gambling site (www.bodog. com), which features a section where you can wager on who will win the reality shows on television. Gambling is most prevalent in card games, slot machines, dice games, sports, and horse racing. Gambling and the gaming industry in the United States have come a long way since their early beginnings. According to historical records and archeological evidence, gambling has existed throughout the ages of most civilizations. Anthropologists agree that data collected in the 20th century implies that gambling took place within a large portion of the greatest societies to have ever existed. For example, gambling artifacts have been recovered from ancient China, India, Egypt and Rome dating as far back as 2300 B. C. (GamblingPhd). Gambling has been around for centuries, but until recently, it has been restricted to back rooms, pool halls, hard to reach casinos, and Indian reservations. Geographic barriers, state regulation, and local ordinances effectively restricted the industrys growth (gsu. edu). Perhaps the most important reason why gambling is most prevalent today is because it is convenient. Large market companies, casinos, and the rise of the internet have paved the way for the industry to target potential gamers. I was on my way to Keeneland to watch the horse races this fall when I passed a sign that read â€Å"Drive-through betting†¦.. Gate 2†. While others may not have noticed, I was shocked to see this simple sign. No longer do you have to step out of your car to wager on horse races. This is just one example of the convenient way to gamble money. The unregulated and decentralized nature of the Internet creates the perfect environment for the growth of gambling. Anyone, anytime, anywhere with a computer, a connection, and a credit card is able to gamble online with thousands of websites dedicated solely to gaming (gsu. edu). Online sportsbooks and casinos get around federal laws by locating their company in a foreign nation, but still target the American consumers. Is online gambling legal for Americans? Often times, there is a â€Å"grey area† in the laws governing gaming products and online gambling. Internet gambling laws are also extremely difficult to enforce. The simple answer is there is an explicit law against online betting in only three states – Nevada, California, and Louisiana. Even so, no American citizen has ever been arrested for betting on the internet (about. com). These convenient methods are contributing to the growing popularity of gambling among Americans. Many people gamble socially without ever encountering a psychological problem. Often times they buy a lottery ticket, go to the racetrack, play a game of poker with some friends, or a night of bingo. When the activity is done, they go on to other non-gambling activities. But for some people, gambling becomes a big part of their lives. They are unable to stop, and believe in the â€Å"big win†. The problem gambler believes that the big win will solve all of their financial problems. They are always waiting for it, which causes them to lose more and more money. Rather than changing their gambling habits, they pin all of their hopes on the big win (aadac. com). A problem gambler will also boast about their wins often. Re-living their wins makes them feel more comfortable when they are actually losing. Legalized gambling brings both positive and negative economic effects to our society. It affects American communities in various ways. Gambling is helpful in our economy in two major ways. First, the gambling industry has provided an increase in employment opportunities. The NGIC reported that in 1996, the legalized gambling industry employed more than a half million people that earned more than $15 billion in salaries (gao. gov). Casinos have also created economic development by bringing in money from tourism, and increasing tax revenue and investment for communities. Charitable gambling benefits many needy causes in local communities. Native American tribes have also benefited enormously from legalized gambling. Casinos located on Indian reservations have allowed these tribes to grow financially and work their way into the U. S. economy. The negative economic effect that gambling has on communities is the increase in personal bankruptcy. In communities where casinos were introduced, there is usually a direct increase in personal bankruptcy. For example, in 1998 the bankruptcy rate in Atlantic City, New Jersey per 100,000 people was 1,019 while the rate of the state of New Jersey was only 555 (gao. gov). In 2003, there was a proposal to add casinos into the mix of Kentucky’s gambling options. Dr.John Kindt, a professor of commerce at the University of Illinois said that bringing casinos to Kentucky would be â€Å"bad economics and bad social policy†. â€Å"Studies show that within the 35-mile feeder market around a casino, gamblers will spend 10 percent less on food, 25 percent less on clothing and that 37 percent will dip into their savings to pay for gambling. For every three (video slot) machines, youll be losing two jobs from the feeder market economy, Kindt said. â€Å"This occurs because each machine can be expected to bring in $100,000 per year that will not be used elsewhere in the economy† ( This is a serious issue that occurs when business owners do not think about how their actions will affect others in the future. Not only does gambling affect the economy of our communities, but it also has social effects. There are many negative consequences of gambling, while there are minimal positive outcomes. Beginning with the positive side, gambling is a recreation, a break from the everyday pressures of life and a relief from stress. People feel good about themselves when they do hit a jackpot or â€Å"win big†. Without gambling, certain sports such as horse racing and boxing would not be nearly as successful. Lastly, casinos do occasionally give back to the community and fund local and national charities. Socially, gambling has a greater affect on communities in a negative way. Three primary problems that occur are an increase in crime, suicides, and family problems. Individuals who suffer from problem or pathological gambling engage in destructive family behavior, such as domestic violence, divorce, and homelessness (gao. gov). Children of these individuals are often prone to suffer from abuse and neglect. In 1998, the NORC (National Opinion Research Center) estimated that the annual average cost to society for a problem gambler for job loss, unemployment and welfare benefits, poor physical and mental health, and gambling disorder treatments were approximately $1,200 dollars (gao. gov). The time that some of these gamblers spend at a casino is detrimental to their marriage, their children, and their job. Pathological gambling has been linked directly to increases in crimes committed. Whether it is robbery or insurance fraud, these types of gamblers are usually desperate for money to fuel their gambling needs. The counselor for the Department of Corrections in Wisconsin, Bill Schaff stated, In the most desperate phase of compulsive gambling, they will do anything to gamble. They start stealing money from their spouses; family . . . theyll get money anyhow, anywhere. Theyll do forgeries, embezzlements and thefts. Its mostly white-collar crime† (family. org). Lastly, the suicide rate among pathological gamblers is higher than for any other addictive disorder (gao. gov). With most businesses, their customers are assets and are catered to and cared for. In order for a business to succeed, they need their customers to return to them and remain loyal. Their customers are, in essence, cultivated. With casinos, their customers are not there for a service. They let the machines and games do the work, especially if they are the only casino in the area. What happens to their customers is not their concern. It is in the casinos benefit for the customers to become addicted. To casinos, they are resources that are strip-mined. There are four stages of gambling a person can go through while becoming a pathological gambler. The first stage is the reason why someone is gambling. They either gamble for the action or for escape. Gambling for the action begins when someone has success and thinks they are good at it. The excitement boosts their self-esteem and they continue in search of more money. Gambling for escape begins when someone is lonely or depressed. It becomes an outlet for them to escape from reality and their problems. The second stage is the gambler’s reaction to losing. Pathological gamblers â€Å"chase† after their losses. They find losing intolerable and focus on getting their money back. â€Å"Chasing† is easily avoided by setting a reasonable limit of money to spend in a day. The third is the desperation phase. In this stage, their losses become significant and their jobs and family come into jeopardy. The obsession with getting out of trouble overtakes the excitement of gambling. Crime and illegal activities occur in order to gain extra money. Serious bouts with depression and suicide attempts take place. They continue to escape from their lives by gambling, but find no relief. The final stage would be the hopeless stage where getting even financially would not be possible. The gambler knows they will lose and no longer cares. There are numerous organizations that focus on gambling behavior modification. They help pathological gamblers acknowledge their problem and overcome irrational thoughts and impulsive behavior. Gamblers Anonymous, Gam-Anon, and NCPG (National Council on Problem Gambling) all contribute to assisting problem gamblers and their families. In rehabilitation, gambling is treated the same as alcoholism, drug abuse, and sex addiction. Gambling is just one of the addictions that provide the users with a temporary, illusional escape from reality. The overall mission of all of these groups is to increase public awareness of pathological gambling, ensure the widespread availability of treatment for problem gamblers and their families, and to encourage research and programs for prevention and education (ncpgambling. org). Gambling addiction often leads to alcoholism and depression. It is important for family physicians to identify and treat this condition as a psychiatric disorder. The personal costs of gambling rarely gain public attention, but one prominent example is that of Pete Rose, who was denied induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a result of sports gambling. Rose, a pathological gambler, had bet thousands of dollars on baseball games while he was a player and manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He admitted that he did have some problems in his life, but said he did not bet on baseball. This is a prime example of a pathological gambler who repeatedly lied and ruined his life over gambling. One of the criteria for a gambling disorder is repetitive lying to conceal the extent of one’s involvement in gambling, much the same way an alcoholic, or drug addict tries to conceal their behaviors (about. com). Teen gambling is on the rise across the country, due to a couple of factors. One is the glitzy, celebrity-filled, high-stakes poker games that fill the cable TV channels. The popularity of Texas Hold’em poker was booming this year. The other is the cultural attitude that says gambling is fun, glamorous and possibly the source of vast wealth (about. com). Unfortunately, many parents view games as friendly, social events. They know where their kids are and assume their child wont develop a problem. Last Christmas, you could find poker sets targeting teens in almost every store. The fact is, that the risk of developing a gambling problem is the same for everyone, and possibly higher among teens. Teenagers are unable to make the same financial decisions as adults are, yet gambling companies continue to target the teenage consumers. The consequences of becoming a gambling addict are just as harsh for a teenager as they are for an adult. Once again, the internet and the ease of gambling are contributing to this problem. In an online environment of anonymous identity, the ease with which teenagers and children can access Internet gambling, coupled with their interest in gambling and poker, will only add to this worrisome trend. The sad part about the gambling industry and large market casinos is that they also target the elderly. Their propaganda reaches out and brings in the people who are unable to gamble responsibly. Casinos provide cheap buffets, coupons, drug discounts, and cater to elderly handicaps. They provide shuttles and buses from nursing homes and retirement centers. I have seen first hand how the senior citizens flock to slot machines and casinos. Often times they sit there for hours at a time with walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and even oxygen tanks. I have even heard stories of elderly gambling addicts committing suicide because they were so far in debt. The gambling industry is not a modern day Robin Hood that takes from the rich and gives to the poor. It takes from the elderly and the poor and gives it to the rich†, said Dr. Jimmy Porter, of the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action (kybaptist. org). Many of these people do not have the ability to control their gambling habits and do not realize how much money they are losing. An article in â€Å"The Call†, a Rhode Island newspaper is titled â€Å"A helping hand for seniors addicted to gambling†. It reads, â€Å"Sitting in her own urine, the elderly woman continued to play the game. Observers concluded she had some sort of bladder disorder, but the real problem was actually staring the woman in the face: the slot machine. Her gambling addiction had reached the point where she ignored everything even her own bodily functions simply so she could keep on playing† (The Call). Americans seem to clamor for seats at the blackjack table a lot more often than they do for seats in the ballpark. Now more people gamble at casinos than attend professional baseball games each year ( This is a major statement about the changing values of American society. Located in twenty-three states, casinos gross more revenue than all sporting events, movies, plays, and concerts combined (aadac. com). In conclusion, the negative effects of gambling far outweigh the positive outcomes. The continued growth and convenience of the gambling industry raises concerns about a possible increase in the prevalence of problem and pathologic gambling. With the industry on the rise, the only solution to problem gambling will be to gamble responsibly. We need to ensure that all Americans have the information, skills and encouragement to reduce the risk that they develop a gambling problem, with special attention to those at increased risk. We must promote safe gambling practices and encourage people to set a limit. If we do not take action immediately, we are going to see the negative effects of gambling unveil themselves like never before. Pathological gambling is a serious psychological problem, and needs to be addressed just as drugs and alcohol are. Works Cited Baldwin, John. Ungar, Bernard. â€Å"Impact of Gambling. † April 2000.http://www. gao. gov/new. items/gg00078. pdf Bell, R. J. â€Å"Online Sports Gambling: The Law and You. † 10 Nov 2005. About. http://www. sportsgambling. about. com/od/legalfacts/a/betting_laws. htm Eadington, William. â€Å"Current Trends in Gambling. † 15 Sept. 2005. University of Nevada. http://www. unr. edu/gambling/eadington_papers Haynes, Jeff. â€Å"A Helping Hand for Citizens Addicted to Gambling. † 3 June 2003. The Woonsocket Call. http://www. zwire. com/site/news McMurry, Kevin. â€Å"Gambling on the Internet. † December 1999. http://gsulaw. gsu. edu/lawand/papers/fa99/mcmurry_thomas/. â€Å"Problem Gambling: The ABC’s. † 10 November 2005. AADAC. http://www. corp. aadac. com/gambling/the_basics_about_gambling. asp Reeves, Robert. â€Å"Expanded Gambling Bad For Economy. † Kentucky Baptist Convention. http://www. kybaptist. org/kbc/welcome. nsf/pages Reno, Ron. â€Å"Gambling and Crime. † 11 Dec 2003. CitizenLink. http://www. family. org/cforum/fosi/gambling/facts/a0029358. cfm â€Å"The History of Gambling. † 10 November 2005. Gambling Phd. http://www. gamblingphd. com/gambling-history. htm â€Å"The NCPG Mission. † 21 Nov 2005. National Council on Problem Gambling. http://www. ncpgambling. org/.

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