How Does Gambling Effect The Economy? Essay, Research Paper
How Does Gambling Effect Society?
It’s just another Saturday night in just about any common town in America. The family sits around the television discussing how much money the twenty tickets in their hands are going to make them. The jackpot is fourteen million. Before the numbers have been shown, the family discusses how to spend the money and how much better their lives are going to be after they win the money. Then finally, the moment of truth. The numbers come across the screen. The first one matches… so does the third… and the fourth. Well we didn’t win this time but we’re getting closer. “I know if we just buy a few more tickets, next time we’re bound to win,” Mother says. Many Americans feel the same way.
The lottery stands at the top of the gambling industry for several reasons. In the words of one lottery director: “Lotteries are different from any other form of gaming product. Lottery players risk a small amount of money against very long odds to win a large prize, with net proceeds going to the public’s good” (Jones, 9). With lotteries operating in 37 states and in the District of Columbia, Lotteries are the most widespread form of gambling in the United States. Of all the other forms of gambling, it is the only one the majority of adults report having played. It is also the only form of gambling in the U.S. that is a virtual government monopoly. State lotteries have the worst odds of any common form of gambling, but they also promise the greatest potential payoff to the winner in absolute terms, with prizes usually amounting to tens of millions of dollars. Many Americans actually believe that they will win millions. What they don’t know is that with most state lotteries their chances of winning are approximately 1in12-14 million.
While many good things come from gambling, there is a downside to everything. In this case, many examples of addiction exist. Along with this addiction to gambling a lot of neglect arises not only of other financial responsibilities but neglect of the gambler’s family and friends. Another problem that will be discussed is the problem of underage gambling. This research paper will show you the downsides of gambling in today’s society.
One downfall of gambling, for instance, the sale of lottery games to minors is illegal in every state; yet, by all measures, there sales are commonplace. A survey in Minnesota of 15- to 18-year-olds found that 27% had purchased lottery tickets for themselves (Gearey, 19). Even higher levels 32%, 34%, and 35% in Louisiana, Texas, and Connecticut, respectively (Wallisch, 78). In Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other states, lottery tickets are available to the general public through self-service vending machines. It is not surprising then that a survey conducted by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office found that minors as young as 9 year-old were able to place bets on keno games. Seventy five percent of Massachusetts’s high school seniors report having played the lottery (Shaffer, 9). Ironically, since the lottery money goes to help the children’s education, then the kids are helping pay for their own schooling.
Also growing evidence reveals another downfall. The new games the lotteries have introduced to increase sales are more addictive and are compounding the problem of compulsive gamblers; yet few states offer help and money for the treatment of the compulsion. Dr. Lance Dodes, Director of the Center of Problem Gambling at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, estimates that 40% of his patients are lottery players (Halbfinger and Golden, “Lottery,” A1). A 1996 survey in New York found that 9% of lottery players and 14% of keno in particular fosters the addiction (Golden and Halbfinger, “Addiction,” A1). One study of the effect of Video Lottery Terminals (VTLs) on compulsive gamblers found that the number of individuals in South Dakota seeking treatment for problem gambling declined significantly during a temporary downtime for the lottery’s VTL’s, and rose shortly once they were returned to service (Carr, et al, 31).
The compulsion is widely recognized, even by those in the industry. Gambling, including playing the lottery, is extremely addictive and is dangerous and destructive for some people. The new games “have created what was once an almost unthinkable link between lotteries and compulsive behavior.” (Jones, 10).
Despite significant annual revenues from the lottery, however, treatment of compulsive gambling receives relatively little money from the state. In Massachusetts, for example, the state budgeted only $450,000 in FY 1996 on compulsive gamblers, including only $120,000 for actual treatment, even though the lottery revenues for the state amounted to $720 million (Golden and Halbfinger, “Lottery,” A1). On the other hand, the Ohio lottery is one of only a few that operates a compulsive gambling treatment operation as part of its regular operations, employing six problem-gambler experts. Five states require a telephone number for help for problem gamblers be printed on its lottery tickets.
Many problem gamblers take their addiction to a new level as one case reported in Chicago. A woman, bent on feeding her gambling addiction, is accused of suffocating her seven-week-old daughter to collect on a $200,000 life insurance policy, “She would do anything to get money with which to gamble – including the unthinkable,” federal prosecutor Ronald Safer told jurors at the trial of Dina Abdelhaq began. The infant’s death was designed to look as though she had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Abdelhaq’s attorney, Scott Frankle, told jurors that his client has a problem “the like of which you may never have seen.” Frankle said, Abdelhaq’s sold her mother’s jewelry at a pawnshop near two riverboat casinos in the Joliet area to gain money to feed her gambling mania.
Problem–or compulsive gamblers, the terms are interchangeable, are the gamblers who will bet with money that they should use to support themselves and their families. They will steal and embezzle money or even sometimes kill to keep their habits going, and on rare occasions – it has happened more than once – kill themselves after a bad night of chasing a dream.
Humans are a very competitive race. They love to win. Nearly all people love playing games, and the money they can win makes these games look more appealing. While playing these games gamblers risk a small amount of money, hoping to win a very large prize. Many people can handle the gambling without its becoming a major issue for them to deal with. On the other hand, there are those people who can’t handle the pressures of gambling. Some people play for fun and some just to pass the time. On the other hand many play the games to pay the mortgage. When someone tries to make enough money to pay the mortgage, that’s when gambling doesn’t work.
R.D. Carr, et al. “Video Lottery’ and Treatment for Pathological Gambling: A Natural Experiment in South Dakota.” South Dakota Journal of Medicine, January 1996 p. 31.
Gearey, Robyn, “The Numbers Game,” The New Republic, May 19, 1997, p.19.
Golden, Daniel; Halbfinger, David M., “Lottery Addiction Rises, and Lives Fall,” Boston Globe, February 11, 1997, p. A1.
Halbfinger, David M. and Golden Daniel, “The Lottery’s Poor Choice of Locations,” Boston Globe, February 12,1997, p. A1.
Jones, Michael, “Lotteries Must Strike Balance Between Letter of the Law and Unwritten Contract with Players,” Gaming Law Review, Volume 2, No. 1, Feb. 1998, p.9.
Jones, Michael, “Lotteries Must Strike Balance Between Letter of the Law and Unwritten Contract with Players,” Gaming Law Review, Volume 2, No. 1, Feb.1998, p.10.
Shaffer, Howard J., “The Emergence of Youthful Addiction: The Prevalence of Underage Lottery Use and the Impact of Gambling,” Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, January 13, 1995,p. 9.
Wallisch, Lynn S., “Gambling in Texas 1995 Survey of Adult and Adolescent Gambling Behavior.” Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, August 1996, p. 78.