Sociology & Gambling

Gambling and Society

Where, or how, does gambling fit into Society? Should it be legal? Should it be outlawed entirely? Should it be limited to only certain activities? The answers to these questions depend in large part upon how ‘gambling’ is regarded by the state and its population.

Traditionally, gambling has been regarded by politicians and religious leaders as a dangerous activity that fosters deterioration in work ethic(s) and encourages people to adopt a ‘get something for nothing’ attitude. Out of concern for their constituencies, leaders in most countries have developed laws and guidelines to ensure that gambling is either: prohibited entirely; limited to certain activities; or at least regulated to prevent major losses and keep out criminal elements.

Some states and localities adopt their own interpretations of the activity and make laws accordingly (ex. Las Vegas and the State of Nevada – legal outright; Atlantic City – legalized casino gambling; numerous other States in the US – presence of horse racing and/or lotteries). Furthermore, even when States or governments have outlawed the activity altogether, people have continued to gamble ‘underground’ or illegally and most law enforcement officials do little to crack down on such illegal activity especially if the populations in the area don’t call or press for it. In other words, a people’s view on the activity largely determines not only the formal type of response the government will take but also its informal application of the law. And, in some cases, populations actually desire and demand at least a certain level of gambling possibilities in their area(s).