Gambling in the U.S.: Is it the new cultural norm?

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The United States prides itself on having been built on promoting individual liberty and equality. The nation, however, clung to its Puritan roots for a long time when it came to gambling. In 1630, the possession of dice and cards had been outlawed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the Wild West, it was common for professional gamblers to be lynched. By the turn of the 20th century, even state-sponsored lotteries had been snuffed out. Today, American attitudes toward gambling are rapidly changing.

Over the past few decades, the US has relaxed its stance on recreational drug use, sexuality, and gambling. When evaluated in terms of financial activity, gambling is one of the most popular pastimes worldwide.

Gamblers spend more than what people pay for fast food and movie tickets. The offers on the market are constantly increasing to meet customer needs. More and more players are looking for a casino not on GamStop so they can play without limits. They also capitalise on the maximum freedom of choice in various tournament games. But is gambling the new American cultural norm? Let’s take a closer look at the prevailing situation.

History of legal gambling

According to evidence that was unearthed by archaeologists, Japanese, Egyptian, Chinese, and Greek people were playing games of chance in 2000 BC. Tombs in the Far East, as well as North and South America, were found with loaded dice. The 19th century was a tumultuous time for gambling, as playing games of chance was considered a pathology. A few decades later, capitalism helped discover that millions of people enjoyed playing games like roulette, blackjack, and video slots. The process of regulating and legalising gambling, therefore, became necessary. The first US state lottery was launched in 1934 in Puerto Rico. 30 years later, another one followed. Today, lotteries are available in almost every US state. This type of gambling has occupied a firm position in American lives.

Modern day legal gambling

The United States and Canada host more than a thousand casinos, which rake in over $25 billion in annual revenue. It’s, therefore, not surprising that offshore casinos began accepting US players in the mid-1990s. These virtual casinos required less investment and were located in the Caribbean.

Within 5 years, more than 600 online casinos were available for the US market. By 2008, online casino revenue was equal to that of brick-and-mortar gambling houses. Today, online gaming far exceeds land-based casino revenues. Everything hasn’t always been rosy though for US online casino gaming. For example, the Online Gambling Enforcement Act prohibited banks and credit card companies from processing gambling site payments.

The fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018 signalled the dawn of a new era. Individual US states could now craft their own online gambling laws and regulatory frameworks. States like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado have already legalized several types of online gambling. More have done the same or are in the process of doing so.

Gambling’s opposing forces

When trying to predict the future of legal gambling in the US, it’s vital to analyse why it’s been illegal for so long. Such a question is of even more particular interest when you consider how much players expect simpler regulations to be applied. First off, most decisions seem to be based on potential financial gain. States that fall on hard times tend to become more open to accepting legal gambling as a new revenue stream. Conservative states that are doing well will, therefore, resist the introduction of legal gambling a while longer. Alternative gambling operators who’re already operating in particular states also tend to oppose the introduction of new ways to gamble. For example, a state which already has legal lotteries is less likely to allow casino gambling.

Gambling in American culture

Humans have to deal with risk from the day they are born until their last day on earth. Risk is tightly intertwined with progress in our everyday life. In the US, the pursuit of the American Dream is something that holds the society and economy together. What better way to escape the clutches of mediocrity than with a dramatically lucky flip of a coin? American films, music, and pop culture are filled with gambling art and other influences. Some players may only play online casino games to escape reality and hope to make big money without spending too much. For some, gambling may simply be an adventure and a chance to make friends.

Story by Patrick Duffy


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