Taking a look at the city of Las Vegas, one shudders at the thought of where the city would be without gambling. Las Vegas is the epicenter of gambling in the world. The profile of this city has been solely been raised by gambling, attracting millions of tourists annually and has played a great role in demonstrating to the world just how crucial the gambling industry can be to a country’s economy. The continued presence of legalized gambling in many parts of the United States and indeed the continued rise in gambling, despite the existing negative sentiments, is an important indicator of how valued gambling has come to be in today’s world.
Gambling is a major industry that has supported millions of families, feeding them and helping them in the path to achieving the American dream. There are credible claims that it has contributed to the creation of over forty thousand jobs in Las Vegas, a testimony that its importance cannot be underrated. Its impact on the local economies and also the livelihoods of the surrounding neighborhoods in the 47 states where it has been legalized remains immense and it would be devastating would such ventures be stamped out due to its prohibition.
Gambling is a practice that has been around for ages but has always been controversial; there is rich evidence in historical literature that it was widely practiced in the ancient times. It has witnessed phenomenal growth in the recent times due to the advent of the internet. A large proportion of the society has come to rely on it, both as a as a source of income and sports, providing social gratification like no other. The negative consequences of gambling have been widely explored and have fuelled its criticism and calls for its prohibition.
These sources of criticism centre on perceived resultant negative impacts on the economy, social costs, broken families and high incidences of suicide especially due to compulsive gambling. There exists a flurry of scholarly opinions on whether gambling has negative economic effects or not. As observed, at a mere glance, gambling presents immense economic opportunities. There are quite a number of economic benefits accrued in the regions that offer gambling facilities in terms of jobs and tourism.
However, as most analysts observe, these benefits do not go beyond this. The resultant economic ramifications adversely negate this. One critic of gambling and its economic effects Samuelson, he insists that gambling does not create new wealth but rather it “involves simply sterile transfers of money or goods between individuals, creating no new money or goods” (425). Its effect does not go beyond personal gratification; it diminishes productivity by taking up important man power time and crucial resources.
At the extreme, it deducts immensely from the national income. Although the positive contributions of gambling in Atlantic City for example are observable, studies conducted in the neighbor hoods and also in the neighboring cities indicate otherwise. The rest of the businesses in the city have not achieved much. It has indeed contributed to creating a wedge between the various neighborhoods. Whereas one side records prosperous growth, the rest of the city is laden with poverty and unemployment.
Complimentary businesses have also not grown in tandem with the growth of the casinos; this is due to the fact that they do not support other businesses such as restaurants as all they require is provided for in the casinos (Distressed Cities Increasingly Bank on Casino Gambling 303). Although research on the possible link between gambling is still ongoing, credible reports have it that it is a lead cause of bankruptcy. There is a dearth of information on the issue but many are in agreement that gambling plays a role. Webber maintains that that “about 10% of bankruptcy fillings are linked to gambling losses.
” It is crucial to observe that there are millions of people that engage in gambling but of these, only a small portion of them proceeds to become problem gamblers. It is this portion that usually ends up in constant borrowing plunging further into debts with their income increasingly diminishing as a proportion to their debts. This is what in the end leads to bankruptcy. This emanates from the unsaid rule in gambling that people must gamble big in the hope of recovering their losses. The causal link between bankruptcy and gambling is controversial because it is hard to establish, but undoubtedly it exists.
A look at the existing statistics in the United States indicates that bankruptcy is on the increase and it becomes curios that such bankruptcy is increasing on a proportional increase in the number of gamblers. However there are no national figures to back this notion but a social psychological conclusion indicates a likely relationship. Indeed, compulsive gambling is seen as being in the same league as drugs and alcohol in terms of addiction and the American Psychiatric Association regards it as an impulse control disorder where gamblers get an uncontrollable urge to engage in betting in the hope of winning more money.
At such a level, where spending on gambling outstrips the income, bankruptcy is the ultimate result. Similar conclusions have been reached by Gorse and Morse who observe that “during the rapid expansion of casino gambling during the 1990s, personal bankruptcies expanded at comparably high rates. Between 1990 and 1999, total personal U. S. bankruptcies grew from 771,210 to 1,294,134, or 67. 8 percent. ” (3) It is crucial to point out that although these statistics indicate an increase in incidences of personal bankruptcies, there could have been other factors at play.
however, this does not diminish a causal link. There are other additional social problems associated with gambling. Just like with gambling, the research on possible link between gambling is on going and has been a point of interest amongst scholars to unearth such likelihood. It has however been established that the increase in the number of casinos is being matched with an increase in the incidences of suicide. As observed, Las Vegas is the capital center of gambling, curiously, it is also home to the highest number of suicides in the United States.
Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City are no doubt the leading cities in gambling, they have been found to have higher rates of suicide compared to the non gambling cities. Consequently, even visitors to these three cities have also been found to have high rates of suicides compared to those that visit the non gambling cities. Although there might not be a clear causal link, it is prudent to state that either gambling, or other factors closely related to gambling triggers elevated incidences of suicide. There exists a logical explanation to this.
It is common knowledge that suicide is motivated by stressful conditions and mostly by a certain level of desperation. At the desperation phase, a gambler digresses and begins to resort to anti social behaviors to escape the realities of his or her problems. Alcohol and drug abuse are the next possible habits to be picked up, as the situation worsens suicide is the only way out. It is important to mention that research has indicated that suicide is not only to be associated with the compulsive gamblers only but also those that are close to them.
There are those that do not go through this whole phase but resort to suicide immediately after making huge losses and blowing up their savings, this usually happens to the visiting gamblers. A study conducted in Crown Casino in Australia and the numerous suicides that had taken place in between 1990 and 1997established the above and noting that “there are (were) strong support for the argument that gambling acted as a catalyst or played a relevant role in the suicide”( Cited in Costello & Millar 222)
Crime is another social ill that has traditionally become associated with gambling. Tentatively, most scholars have reinforced, through prudent findings, the ages old notion that gambling and crime go together. It is however important to observe that there are various factors that may be behind crime that may co-exist with gambling, with the later hence acting as a catalyst to crime. Unemployment and poverty are possible causes; these may further be exacerbated by lack of stringent laws on gun control.
Gambling cities and neighborhoods however have been observed to have higher incidences of violent crime; this is so if there is a high presence of compulsive gamblers. Drugs and other kinds of crime such as fraud are the most likely to be prevalent with the casinos acting as the perfect vessels for money laundering. Compulsive gamblers mostly resort to financial crime to finance their gambling endeavors (Klassen & Cosgrave 163). Lastly, gambling has also come to be associated with broken families.
Indeed, as has been priory mentioned, compulsive gambling leads to anti social behaviors. One characteristic of this is being highly irritable. This is a characteristic that is carried over to the household complicating relations between spouses and is likely to end up into a divorce. It might also be characterized by the gambling partner becoming violent to hide his gambling problems. As the marriage crumbles, children are the most affected and may even be negatively affected in their later life (Alexander 86)
Indeed there are apparent negative impacts of gambling but there also immense positive contributions of gambling making a strong case for its legalization. Legalization of gambling leads to a number of notable benefits and it would be insensitive to close such centers that are deemed to be making immense contributions. However, as has been established, there are also negative economic effects that are bound to arise, a fact exacerbated by the numerous social costs associated. Crime, suicide, bankruptcy and broken families are the key characteristics of gambling.
Closing them down will see a reduction of these social evils but it will also deny thousand the source of their livelihoods. The in recognition of these social woes should illegalize gambling but in the appreciation the beneficial gambling centers could allow cities such as Las Vegas to operate under controlled watch. Works Cited Alexander R. M. Rolling the dice with state initiatives: interest group involvement in ballot campaigns. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002 Costello T. & Millar R. Wanna bet? : winners and losers in gambling’s luck myth.
Allen & Unwin, 2000 David Webber. Riverboat Gambling in Missouri: A Risk that should NOT have been Taken. May 1, 2002. Retrieved on April 22, 2009, from http://web. missouri. edu/~webberd/ganbling. memo Goss E. , Morse E. The Impact of Casio Gambling on Bankruptcy Rates: A County Level Analysis, 2004, 2 Distressed Cities Increasingly Bank on Casino Gambling. National Civic Review, Summer 1993, p. 303. Paul A. Samuelson, Economics, 10th ed. , 1976, p. 425. http://www. ncalg. org/Library/Studies%20and%20White%20Papers/Bankruptcy/C asino_bankruptcy031204. pdf