Gambling Industry – Nature and Scope
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Typically, the outcome of the wager is evident within a short period. The term gaming typically refers to instances in which the activity has been specifically permitted by law. The two words are not mutually exclusive; i.e., a “gaming” company offers (legal) “gambling” activities to the public. The gambling industry is an important economic and financial sector, which produces employment (direct and indirect) and taxation revenue, and involves a gamblers population of millions of people. Almost 30 million people in France, or three out of five people of gambling age, gamble at least once per year. Since 1975, the total value of stakes has doubled. According to the report, the turnover of the legitimate gambling industry has increased from the equivalent of 98 million euros in 1960 to 37 billion in 2006. Gambling is social and cultural practices which have a very long history in leisure activities. They now occupy an important place in everyday life, both in free time and at special events. Whereas gambling is a recreational activity for a large number of people, they can be harmful for some, with individual, family and social-occupational consequences. For some gamblers, gambling can take on the features of addictive behavior. The possible dangers of gambling are increasingly drawing the attention of public bodies and gambling operators themselves.
Gambling industry has continuously developed in different forms in Western societies for the past 300 years. Gambling activities were initially prohibited in France by Royal Decree and for a long time were conducted in secret. They were legalized in the last third of the 18th century with the creation of the royal lottery.
The principles defined for gambling at the time live on today. In gambling, the person irreversibly hands over a good (money or object) and the end of the game results in a loss or gain determined partially or totally by chance. For a long time gambling has had a social and economic dimension. In the current social context (easy borrowing, consumer society and the huge increase in the number of games available), the various forms of compulsive expenditure (gambling purchases) can represent an ”unlucky encounter” between a vulnerable person with unmet desires and an attractive marketing offer giving the illusion of fulfilling a “missing need”.
Excessive gambling appears to be the product of personal history and a global social, economic, historical and cultural context. Although a public health problem, its causes and consequences are fundamentally social and as such it is an indicator of our society.
The sociological approach to gambling considers that the degree of “closeness” between the gambler and his/her gambling depends on the relationship that the gambler establishes with the game in a given social and personal context.
Although the existence of pathological gamblers was described as early as 1929, the concept of pathological gambling appeared in the scientific literature around the end of the 1980s. Excessive gambling was firstly considered to be a manifestation of compulsive disorders, following which the disorder was then gradually included in the group of “non-substance additions”.
Identification of the different risk and vulnerability factors for pathological gambling, and improved knowledge about the trajectories of the gamblers who become involved in pathological and risk gambling practices at a given time, are key objectives for constructing preventive actions, facilitating access to care and also defining the most relevant indications for treatment.
The History of Gambling industry
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