Many governments have turned to legalized gambling as a way to increase revenues. Raising taxes has become very unpopular, and gambling can be seen as a “cash cow.” Large casinos are often considered good for areas with high unemployment. Most new casinos include a variety of slot machines, table games, such as blackjack, and roulette wheels. Opponents of gambling point to problems associated with it. Crime rates go up, especially with respect to theft and prostitution. People become addicted to gambling and play until they are broke. Stress is put on families when one member gambles, and the grocery and rent money are spent. On the other hand, many people view gambling as an exciting form of entertainment. They look forward to the opportunity to play the lottery or go to the casino. Often they feel that they are getting good value, in terms of entertainment, for what they spend.
The truth is probably that some people can control the urge to gamble, while some cannot. People who find gambling really exciting feel that they have to go back for that “high,” even if it means spending all their money. Many people doubt that governments should promote gambling, since it is certain to produce addicts. There has also been some question whether gambling is good for the local economy. If a casino is built in an area of high unemployment, will local people really benefit? The answer seems to be both yes and no. People may benefit if the gamblers come in large numbers from outside the area and spend their money there. That is, if the casino is a notable tourist attraction. On the other hand, if not many people come from outside the area, there are few benefits. In this case, most of the gamblers are local people who are spending the little money they have. Gambling is especially attractive to older and retired people. Since older people don’t have much chance of making a lot of new money, the thought of winning the jackpot is very attractive to them. Casinos regularly run buses from retirement homes so that seniors can come and gamble. Some would see this as taking advantage of lonely people.
There are stories in the newspaper about couples leaving their children locked in the car for six or eight hours while they gamble. One man hoped to improve his finances by gambling, but he lost heavily. His wife found out and went gambling herself, hoping to win some of the money back. Before long, they had to sell their house to pay their gambling debts. Gambling has usually been associated with organized crime. Even today, when government agencies supervise gambling, it would appear that there is still a crime connection. This may be because many of the best gamblers and gambling administrators learned their trade outside of the law. Besides this, gambling establishments attract various forms of crime to the area. Since law and government have an important educational function, one doesn’t like to see them involved in gambling. Governments should be more than profit-maximizers. They should be concerned chiefly with the public good.