The Impact of Gambling in America

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The Impact of Gambling in America

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 “betting”. It is defined as “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” ( In reality, someone could bet or gamble on just about anything. For example, I recently stumbled upon an online gambling site (, 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 industry's growth ( 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 “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 ( 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 “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 ( 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...
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