Economic Effect of Gambling in the US

Gambling is one of the American people’s favorite hobbies, and the topic has amazed me since I read the book Bringing Down the House in 5th grade. On a recent college visit to California, I was surprised to learn that one course available for completing the math requirement was called “The Probability of Gambling”, and was a study of the probability behind various card games, including Texas Hold ‘em and blackjack. Gambling is also a popular venue in the media, as can be seen in popular movies such as 21 and Casino Royal. When I was younger, the concept of earning money while playing a game that I enjoyed fascinated me, but as I grew older, I realized the naivety of those beliefs. Casinos wouldn’t offer gambling if patrons were consistently putting the casinos in debt. Now, I am more interested in the effect gambling has had on society, specifically on its economic impacts. I believe that gambling has been beneficial for the US economy in the past and will continue to benefit the economy for years to come, but the stress gambling puts on society has greatly increased problems in communities with high profile gambling industries.

Gambling in the Americas began when the first colonists came from England, and the Virginia Company needed a way to get some profit. They turned to a lottery, which was quite successful, except it was associated with settler’s laziness as well as the economic troubles faced by the colony. The Crown eventually shut down the lottery due to its impact on a royal lottery operated throughout the British Empire. Lotteries were used again by American colonists in an attempt to raise funds for the Revolutionary War without raising taxes. This was extremely successful, and the practice was continued into the 19th century in order to transportation improvements, especially as the Western frontier continued to gain attention and popularity. When gold was discovered in California, gambling became one of the most popular forms of entertainment for miners in the West. However, the economy slid into a recession after the gold rush, leading many people to associate gambling with economic depression. Lotteries were also becoming increasingly corrupt, with organizers fixing the results for a portion of the pot. These circumstances led to nationwide ban on gambling, with the exception being Nevada, where professional gamblers would flock to from across the country to create the foundation for modern day Las Vegas.

The ban on gambling didn’t last long, as the Great Depression forced government leaders to revoke the ban in an attempt to stimulate the faltering economy. Gambling once again grew in popularity, although it only increased the divide between the rich and the poor due to the uneven payoff associated with casino gambling. State lotteries became popular during the Cold War, especially when Reagan became president, because he cut national funding for key aspects of the country such as education and Medicare in order to fund the war against the USSR. Tribal gambling also began to grow in popularity during this time, due to state’s inability to regulate prize money on reservations. Instead of going to state run lotteries or gambling locations, locals and tourists alike would flock to the reservations in the hopes of winning it all, although this rarely ever occurred. These various aspects of gambling have steadily become more popular, with casinos and lotteries providing support for various state economies.

Gambling provides two main benefits to states: casinos bring in tourists while also paying tax to the state for gambling revenues. An influx of tourists means money flows into the state economy without any significant loss of money due to the low odds of winning at casinos. The state gets even more money from gambling because casinos are forced to pay a tax on all revenue earned, with tax revenue almost reaching $1 billion dollars in Nevada. The gambling industry has also created more than 500,000 jobs, lowering unemployment throughout the nation. However, gambling isn’t perfect, and there are other statistics that paint a much more worrisome picture about the industry.

Crime seems to be strongly correlated to gambling, with cities introducing casinos seeing an increase of over 50% in crime rates. This forces states to spend more on the police force, diverting funding away from other projects in an attempt to combat a problem caused by gambling. Organized crime is also a very common issue due to the large amount of cash flowing in and out of casinos each day. Problem gambling also becomes a much larger issue when casinos are present, which in turn leads to a higher crime rate when people need to pay off gambling debt. There are some detrimental aspects of gambling in society, but for the most part, the gambling industry has helped keep the American economy from slumping.

After reviewing the various statistics from my research, I believe that gambling has been beneficial for America. Whenever the country has faced economic hardship, gambling has been promoted or legalized to bolster a weak economy. Not only does it have a positive influence on the economy, but I believe that gambling also benefits the American people. Card games such as poker and blackjack are universal and can help bring people together in social environments. In a few short months, I will be able to legally experience the large attraction gambling has to a large number of Americans. Although there are some harmful side effects of gambling, these are outweighed by the benefit that the industry has displayed throughout history.

Addiction – When Gambling Becomes a Problem

While most people enjoy casino gambling, sports betting, lottery and bingo playing for the fun and excitement it provides, others may experience gambling as an addictive and distractive habit. Statistics show that while 85 percent of the adult population in the US enjoys some type of gambling every year, between 2 and 3 percent of will develop a gambling problem and 1 percent of them are diagnosed as pathological gamblers.

Where can you draw the line between harmless gambling to problem gambling? How can you tell if you or your friend are compulsive gamblers? Here you can find answers to these questions and other questions regarding problem gambling and gambling addiction.

What is the Meaning of Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling or compulsive gambling is defined as an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite the destructive effect of gambling on the gamblers life and despite feelings of guilt and remorse. Problem gambling tends to have a negative effect on the gamblers financial state, relationships and daily life. Severe cases of problem gambling can be defined as pathological gambling.

Am I a Compulsive Gambler?

1) Do you gamble until your last penny runs out?

2) Do you gamble to win back your former losses or debts?

3) Did you ever had to borrow money to continue gamble?

4) Did your gambling habit ever made you lie to your friends or family?

5) Did you ever skip work or other obligation to gamble?

6) Do you tend to gamble to forget about your personal problems or to celebrate happy occasions?

7) Does gambling have a negative affect on your daily life or relationships?

If you have answered yes on at least one of the questions listed above, then you have a problem.

Can Anyone Become a Compulsive Gambler?

Theoretically, yes. Any gambler can develop gambling problem regardless to the type of gambling he is occupied with, the amount of money and time he is spending on gambling. Researches show that slot machines that can be found in bars and convenient stores are the most addictive type of gambling activity, while lottery draws and bingo games are located on the other end of the scale. Gambling addiction is an emotional problem; its symptoms, causes and treatments are similar to any other form of addiction.

How Can I treat Gambling Addiction?

1) Group Therapy:

Gamblers Anonymous offers a 12 step self help program similar to the one offered to alcohol addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous. Group therapy also offers gambling addicts advice and support from professional counselors and other gambling addicts in different phases of their recovery process. Gambler Anonymous centers are available in more than 1,200 locations statewide.

2) Individual Therapy:

Cognitive or behavior therapy can help gambling addicts to identify their unaware thinking and acting patterns, which led them to gamble compulsively, and to replace them with controllable and healthier ways of thinking.

3) Psychiatric Medication:

It has recently been proven that antidepressant medications from the family of SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be affective in treatment of gambling addicts.

Repercussions of Gambling

Ever played poker? Roulette perhaps? Have you ever wagered money when playing? Then, in fact, you have gambled. Gambling is when you wage money for something even when you do not know what the outcome will be. However, gambling seems to be a part of quite a number of people’s lives. It has become a habit, worse, even a psychological problem.

For someone who gambles for the first time, it may not be hard to get out of it. Once you win something by doing it, you may want to try it the second time. When you get the hang of gambling, you will probably want to do it again. The next thing you know, you become unconsciously addicted to it. Even when you wish to stop, there is nothing you can do.

Ludomania is known as the impulse or itch to gamble even when you know its’ corresponding implications. This however is just a minor difficulty. Severe cases actually nod into the direction of a mental disorder. It is called pathological gambling. One is considered to be a pathological gambler if one is preoccupied with gambling all the time and that is mainly all he thinks about. He tends to imagine when he will be playing again in the future or thinks about the game he played yesterday.

When someone tries to recover from gambling problems and still resorts to gambling, then it is also considered pathological gambling. It is also when someone considers gambling as an escape from reality – a sort of a makeshift world when he can be himself at least for that moment to break away from his realities.

One of the most common symptoms is the need to gamble more. When you lose a game, thus losing money, you have the urge to get it back and start gambling again. It is a never ending difficulty to those who are hooked on gambling.

Consequently, one now has a hard time controlling his gambling habit. This loss of control will eventually lead to deceit to his family and friends.

When gambling becomes so much of a habit, one may consider doing illegal acts. The need to gamble more when you lose money could lead to stealing money to recover your losses. Sometimes, one would resort to fraud. Forgery is also common when someone uses someone else’s signature especially in writing checks for him to continue gambling.

Risking his relationship just for gambling is also a symptom. When he continues to gamble even when it compromises his time away from his wife or kids is a serious problem. This could lead to divorce. This also could involve missing work as a result of being in a game instead of at work.

Another symptom is when he relies so much on his family or friends for money. When he is losing money because of gambling, he could resort to borrowing money from his family, friends, even a financial institution that could result in bankruptcy.

Gambling will become serious if not given proper attention. When this becomes a habit, it becomes a hindrance to your relationships with others, especially with your family. When this becomes severe, you should go to counseling to counteract your gambling problems. Have someone to talk to. Your family can be of help because they are your first line of defense against gambling. But most importantly, discipline should begin with you. There is nobody who can help but you alone. Remember that too much gambling can make your life miserable, so avoid excess gambling.