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.