Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Sin of Gambling: Part 2 - The Different Forms of Gambling

The Different Forms of Gambling

When discussing the topic of gambling, an image of casino-style gambling such as that found in Las Vegas or Atlantic City generally come to mind. Gambling, however, is not limited to this commercial activity. Gambling takes on a variety of forms that will be discussed in broad terms. The following is not intended to be an exhaustive listing.

State-Sponsored Lotteries

As previously mentioned, there are now thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia that have state-run lotteries. These lotteries include the weekly lottery games as well as the daily lottery numbers and scratch-off tickets.[1] There is a great deal of money that passes through these state-run lotteries. In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, there was over $53 billion in ticket sales with about one third of those revenues available for use by the states to fund various activities.[2] In the author’s home state of Georgia, less than two percent of total state revenues raised came from the state-run lottery.

Casino Gambling

Though not the most common type of gambling, the image of casino gambling is what comes to mind most frequently when the topic of gambling arises. Casino gambling includes slot machines, video poker, craps, roulette, and various card games such as poker, blackjack, and baccarat.[3] As with state-sponsored lotteries, there is a great deal of money passing through the operations of casino gambling establishments throughout the United States. These companies, who prefer the term commercial gaming considering that more marketable, saw $34.6 billion in revenues in 2010, the latest year for which data is available.[4] The American Gaming Association also reports that 2010 Commercial Casino tax revenues paid to the 22 states that permit casino gaming were nearly $7.6 billion in 2010.[5]

Sports Betting

Sports’ betting is an activity in which someone can gamble on the outcome of a sporting event such as football, baseball, basketball, etc. or even a particular part of a sporting event.[6] Typically, bets are placed on a bookmaker’s odds against the point spread for the particular sporting event. Included in this sort of gambling are illegal office pools and even the so-called friendly wager on holes of a golf game.

Pari-mutuel Betting

Another form a sports betting is called pari-mutuel betting. This form of betting is usually on horse racing, dog racing, and more recently on a game called jai-lai where those backing the first three finishers divide the losers’ stakes. With over 150 racetracks in the United States, horse racing is legal in forty-three states.[7]

Convenience Gambling

Convenience gambling is a growing category that includes games such as stand-alone slot machines, video poker, video keno, and other games of chance that are typically found in bars, truck stops, and convenience stores around the United States. This type of gambling is also known as retail gambling.[8]

Internet Gambling

The World Wide Web is the latest forum to see gambling take root. The availability of accessibility of internet gambling appears to be attracting increasing numbers of people on a regular basis.[9] Internet gambling presents unique challenges for state and federal regulators. The federal government has taken the position that online gambling is illegal based on their interpretation of the 1961 Interstate Wire Act.[10] Though legislation has been introduced at the federal level, none has yet been signed into law.



[1] Anderson, Kirby. Christian Ethics in Plain Language. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), 166.

[2] United States Census Bureau. State Government Finances. November 12, 2011. http://www.census.gov/govs/state/10lottery.html (accessed May 2, 2012).

[3] Anderson, 166.

[4] American Gaming Association. Gaming Revenue: 10 Year Trend. 2011. http://www.americangaming.org/industry-resources/research/fact-sheets/gaming-revenue-10-year-trends (accessed April 28, 2012).

[5] American Gaming Association. Tax Payments - Commercial Casinos. 2011. http://www.americangaming.org/industry-resources/research/fact-sheets/tax-payments-commercial-casinos (accessed April 28, 2012).

[6] Anderson, Kirby. Christian Ethics in Plain Language. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), 166.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid,

[9] Ibid.

[10] McGowan, Richard A. The Gambling Debate. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 38-40.

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