Gambling in the United States


In the last year Americans have wagered $482 billion dollars 
in the United States. Over eighty-five percent of this wagering took 
place in casinos which are now legal in twenty-seven states. In the 
past decade there has been incredible growth in the gambling industry. 
Twenty years ago if a person wanted to gamble they had to go to 
Nevada. Nowadays, there are only six states in which no form of 
legalized gambling exists. Proponents of the gambling industry feel 
that this growth is a good thing a nd that it is helping the national 
economy. However, there are many opponents that feel that gambling is 
hurting families and society. Indeed, there needs to be a limit to the 
growth of the gambling industry, although, this industry does have 
some merit s they don't outweigh the costs to society. Proponents of 
the gaming industry insist that gambling is good clean fun, and that 
so many people enjoying something can't be wrong. In fact, proponents 
are quick to point out that fun is not the only issue; in addition, 
these new casinos have created thousands of jobs. Furthermore, not 
only have casinos created new jobs, but there has been an increase in 
tax revenue for the cities that have casinos. Indeed, the increase in 
tax revenues has helped to rebuild some rundown inner cities and river 
fronts areas. These people argue there is little reason to worry about 
gambling as most people will only lose a small amount of money and 
will have a fun time losing it. However, opponents insist that most of 
the jobs created are low paying and offer little opportunity for the 
worker to progress. Furthermore, the creation of these casino jobs 
have taken away jobs from other areas of the economy. For instance, 
restaurants near casinos are being forced out of business by the cheep 
buffets that casinos offer to draw people in. Many people argue that 
casinos have not created any significant increases in the number of 
jobs. Some analysis's point to a four percent growth in areas with 
legalized gambling this is nearly the same as the rest of the nation. 
Additionally, it seems that most of the business for these new casinos 
is coming from the surrounding areas bringing in few tourists. 
Consequently, there is no real growth and all this doe s is move money 
around in the same economy. Indeed, many of the people that are 
spending their money gambling are the same people that can least 
afford to lose it. For instance, the lottery is most heavily 
advertised in poor neighborhoods where it is advertised as a way out 
of poverty. Opponents feel that gambling is like a tax on the poor. 
The poor, those making under ten thousand a year, are spending more 
money in proportion to their income than any other group. These 
people, who can least afford it, are spending money on a dream. The 
proliferation of casinos and legalized gambling promotes the dream of 
"striking it rich" rather than the tried and true methods of 
achievement, education and hard work. Proponents may argue that 
gambling is fun, but with this fun comes many problems to society; 
wherever there is a large amount of money and alcohol there is going 
to be crime. Indeed, whenever casinos move into an area so do 
criminals. Opponents say that in most cases where casinos have been 
built the crime rate has risen. The rise in crime has cost cities 
money they have to hire more police officers and build jails. However, 
this is not the only cost to society, for example, gambling can take a 
heavy toll on the family. Most people can spend a small amount of 
money on gambling and then quit, but there are a substantial number of 
people that can't control their gambling. To these people gambling is 
an addiction that can't be controlled and has been compared to 
alcoholism. In a survey of gamblers anonymous, twenty-six percent said 
they had been divorced or separated because of gambling; thirty-four 
percent had lost or quit a job; twenty-one percent had filed for 
bankruptcy; sixty-six percent had contemplated suicide, and sixteen 
percent had attempted suicide. Indeed, gambling may be fun but the 
cost to society far outweighs the value of this fun. Therefore, the 
gambling industry should not be allowed to expand across the nation 
any further. Even though casinos have created a number of low-paying 
jobs, the cost to society is greater than the benefits. Certainly, the 
few poor people who benefit at gambling can not outweigh the greater 
loss to the many poor that waste their money and unwittingly place 
their hopes on a "one in a million" chance. Indeed, without a casino 
in every city it will be difficult for those who are susceptible to 
compul sive gambling to find places to gamble. Even though some inner 
cities have benefited and been cleaned up, the increase in crime is 
not worth the aesthetic improvements. Finally, nobody knows what kind 
of lasting impact gambling will have on society, but one thing is for 
sure, a little fun is not worth all the problems that gambling causes. 


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