Should Gambling be a Legal Entertainment Option?

The debate continues to rage over whether or not gambling should be a legal way for adults to entertain themselves. Gambling can take many forms, ranging from traditional and online casino play and poker tournaments to playing bingo and betting on the ponies. Regardless of your personal definition of gambling, read on to learn the pros and cons of legalized gambling.

Aspects of Legalized GamblingPositive Aspects of Legalized Gambling:
  • Economic Stimulation: The economy can always use a boost, and legalized gambling could provide that. Offering places to gamble also increases tourism, as indicated by the number of annual visitors to Las Vegas and other gambling havens. Generating billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs worldwide, legal gambling is an exciting way to stimulate the troubled global economy.

  • Legal Behaviors: When a population is told that they aren't allowed to gamble, it's the first thing that they want to do. Studies of human behavior indicate that people always want what they can't have, and gambling is no different. It stands to reason that increasing the number of people who are allowed to gamble legally will reduce illegal gaming behaviors.

  • Family Revenue: Those who are lucky enough to have a successful professional gambler in their household can attest to the realities of a society that embraces gambling as a legal choice. In a time of economic uncertainty, many families are learning to rely on non-traditional means of support; legalized gambling would make it easier for a professional online poker player to support those that he loves the most.

  • Entertainment: Finally, a benefit of legalized gambling is to provide a safe, exciting way to relieve stress. The online gambler who knows that his activities are legal will be far more likely to be less stressed than those who have to ponder the murky legal status of their gaming. Furthermore, legalized gambling as a stress reducer could create an environment where players are happier and more productive in their personal and professional lives.

Negative Aspects of Legalized Gambling:
  • Financial Concerns: The act of wagering on the outcome of any given game is a risky one, and the gambler may be spending funds that could be better used elsewhere. Ideally, gamblers will only bet what they can afford to lose, but this often isn't the case. Instead, those who like to wager often try to compensate for a big loss by betting more and losing again.

  • Addiction: Winning a large amount of cash on a wager can be intoxicating; like alcohol and other drugs, the feeling of winning can become addictive. Some gambling addicts firmly believe that they wouldn't have lost their homes, cars, and families if gambling had been illegal. It's important to remember to balance this information with personal experience; if you know you're a responsible gamer, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Crime Rates: Cities that have legalized gambling tend to also experience an increase in crime rates. Some argue that increased crime is a result of people losing too much money, but others feel that the large amounts of cash associated with gambling lead to an increase in illegal activity. In order to successfully legalize gambling, officials should consider an increased law enforcement presence.

  • Small Businesses Suffer: There is some indication that those communities with legal gambling see a loss in the amount of revenue garnered by small businesses. In addition to providing exciting recreation opportunities, casinos and other gambling establishments tend to support restaurants, bars, and other businesses. When casino visitors come to gamble, they stay for dinner; over time, this tendency can decrease the amount of customers that smaller businesses serve.

What Do You Think?

Now that you've read over several pros and cons of legalized gambling, what do you think? Is global economic growth more important than the needs of small businesses? Is gambling as a method of employment acceptable, given the fact that some people get addicted? The issue of legalized gambling cannot be resolved without conclusive answers to questions like these.