Can gambling ever be good for us?

There has been a great deal of rhetoric about the downsides of gambling, particularly in recent months. The media have been full of stories about problem gambling, addiction and devastation wreaked by those who find themselves with a habit they can’t control. However, there is one voice in the wilderness that seems to be echoing what many happy gamblers have been saying for years – gambling can actually be a good thing.

We might like it, but can it be good for us?

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Of course, individual gamblers who enjoy passing the time by making bets or playing in online casinos will be able to tell you about the individual benefits to themselves of their hobby. The thrill, the potential for a big win and the escapism of the games are all a big part of why people return to gambling time after time. But John Orwid, commentator on entrepreneurship and sport, claims that there is a wider social advantage that can be gained from gambling.

Regulation

Although the regulations governing betting and gaming have become more permissive in a number of countries, overall there is still great deal of prohibition around what can and can’t be done in the gambling industry. There is not a single casino in China, the world’s fastest growing economy, and most people in the US are not legally allowed to wager on sporting events.

Outwardly, this regulation seems to be with the aim of preventing problem gambling behaviour but research into the extent of such behaviour is inconclusive. Lobbies on both sides of the gambling debate will produce statistics to support both sides of the story – the anti-gamblers will claim huge social problems caused by derestriction of gambling while those who wish to see the market opened up and restrictions reduced suggest the gains in terms of wealth, employment and regeneration are huge.

Orwid suggests that the history of gambling regulations hark back to a bygone age where social attitudes and availability of gambling outlets were conservative and restrictive. In these more modern times, the market these paternalistic laws seek to regulate is no longer simply peer-to-peer betting and bookmaker bets. The market has massively diversified and regulation has failed to keep up.

A whole new world

Anyone who’s been online recently will be able to attest to the fact that the range of ways in which one can gamble has increased thousands-fold. From virtual casinos and online betting through to bingo and slots, there are hundreds of thousands of ways for people to while away their time following their passion for gambling.

To don’t need to even leave the house to get your fill

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In addition to these more traditional games, there are also newer concepts emerging as gamblers seek a more personal touch to their experience. US west coast betting business YouBetMe has taken the concept of gambling to a new level and gives people the chance to bet for social rewards ranging from someone buying you a beer to the more enigmatically named “affection” category of dividend.

The one thing this, as many years of illicit books, shows is that people will find ways to bet and they get something from it that is more than just the expectation of financial reward. This interpersonal bonding and sense of fun is something that gamblers have sought for years and is something that can’t be legislated for.

Conclusion

Betting continues to be a part of people’s way of blowing off steam and connecting with each other. The laws that govern it aren’t keeping pace with the way in which betting and gambling has evolved in recent years and, as with so many things, people will always find a way to get around the regulations to do something they enjoy.

Image Credits: Foqus and Kel O’Brien