Such an attitude toward the foolishness, rather than the immorality, of gambling can be heard in a 1732 poem by Henry Fielding: It is in the 20th century that the notions of sinful gambling and irrational gambling began to be replaced with a medicalization of gambling as an illness that required intervention and therapy.Clearly, such attitudes were based on those cases where serious amounts of money were lost by those hardly able to handle such losses rather than on the minor or moderate amounts lost by casual gamers who fl y to Las Vegas or Atlantic City in the United States for a few days of vacation.One particularly interesting factor in the consideration of gambling as a social and moral issue is the rise of Native American gambling as a major industry on Indian land.
It would be difficult to find specific biblical injunctions against gambling, and within Judaism and Christianity, for example, there is a history of tense coexistence with gambling, particularly from the perspective of historical Judaism and the Roman Catholic Church.
However, there is a tradition of a more intensively negative view in the Protestant Christian tradition, with similarities to Aristotle’s notion of waste, and, later, its associations with other activities seen as sinful (e.g., drinking and other forms of excess and, even more recently, organized crime).
The vast majority of Americans have gambled at least once.
One can place bets on dog and horse races in 43 states, buy lottery tickets in 42 states, gamble for charity in 47 states, and play at commercial casinos in 11 states. From Sin to Foolishness: Changing Western Attitudes V. Conclusion Definitions of gambling are elusive, but a helpful suggestion has been made by M. Griffiths, a scholar and historian of gambling in Western culture, as “an exchange of wealth determined by a future event, the outcome of which is unknown at the time of the wager” (Dickerson and O’Conner 2006, 7).
When, however, significant gains or losses are made part of the activity, gambling can become a storm center of debate that has strong religious involvement.
The significant moral and social issues surrounding the tremendous growth of the gaming industry in the United States (and worldwide—Australian gaming is, per capita, much greater than in the United States) include concerns about the social costs of so-called addicted or pathological gamblers, of organized crime, and even of the equitable distribution of gaming earnings.
As money making became quite literally a way of life for a growing class of merchants, the minimizing of risk also became a way of life—extending to leisure as well as work.
Some have argued that the gambling debate has been largely overruled by the very success of the industry and the dependence on that industry in many local economies around the United States.
Although gaming brings in critically needed funds for often impoverished peoples, the total amount accounts for less than a quarter of the gambling industry revenues nationwide each year.
A study written in 2005 found that 30 states are home to more than 350 tribal gaming establishments, operated by over 200 tribes that have decided to pursue gaming as a strategy for economic development (Light and Rand 2005).