Wagers on the Rise, Along With Ethical Concerns
NEW YORK, 8 JULY 2006 (ZENIT)
Global revenue from gambling is expected
to reach $125 billion by 2010. The estimate comes from a report by
consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, Reuters reported June 21. Last year,
revenues were $82.2 billion, and are expected to increase by 8.8%
The United States, the world's largest gambling market, could see
revenue grow from $53.4 billion in 2005 to $74.5 billion in 2010.
Another booming sector is revenue from gambling sites on the Internet.
Revenue is expected to double, from $5.1 billion to $11.4 billion by
Most forms of online gambling are illegal in the United States. But
according to a March 19 article in the Washington Times nearly
two-thirds of all online wagers are placed by Americans. Gambling sites
get around the legal restrictions by operating outside the United
Gambling companies are now pressuring for changes in U.S. law, to allow
them to operate legally in the country. As an incentive to lawmakers,
they dangle the prospect of increased revenue, stemming from
"I could pump $1 billion into the U.S. economy right away," Peter
Carruthers, chief executive officer of BetonSports.com, told the
Washington Times. His company operates out of Costa Rica and earns most
of its revenue from U.S. bettors.
This is a temptation that is proving difficult for legislators to
resist, the Wall Street Journal noted March 30. It gave the example of
slot machines. State-sponsored slot machines are in use in nine states,
according to the Journal, and other states are debating their
introduction. A 10th state, Pennsylvania, will soon be on the list. The
types used are often referred to as "video lottery terminals," similar
to the electronic slot machines with push buttons now common in casinos.
Not counting Pennsylvania, there are now about 86,000 slot machines
authorized by the states. By the end of 2007 another 49,000 will be
added. These are in addition to the 675,000 or so slot machines in
private venues, including casinos and cruise ships.
All of this adds up to a big payout for government revenues, the Journal
pointed out. Rhode Island's lottery, for example, is expected to
contribute $325.1 million to state revenues during the current fiscal
year, no less than 10.6% of the projected total. In New York state, in
the fiscal year ended June 30, the lottery brought in $2.06 billion.
The dangers of expanding gambling opportunities, however, were
highlighted by a marriage counseling service in Ireland. John Farrelly,
director of counseling at Accord, a Catholic marriage-support service,
said that more and more families are coming under pressure due to
gambling addiction. His comments were reported June 8 by
Farrelly said that when Accord brings its counselors together for
training, the problem of gambling sites comes up again and again. "The
family is under pressure because the industry has no interest in them
except to exploit them," he said.
Internet gambling, meanwhile, is growing rapidly in England. The
London-based Financial Times on June 18 cited data showing a 50% growth
in users in the past year, with 10 million people visiting a gambling
Web site in the first three months of 2006.
And the gambling opportunities are set to increase. Britain's government
has authorized 17 new casinos, and a competition among cities for the
new sites is under way.
Betting in the United Kingdom have risen sevenfold since 2001, with
around $92 billion wagered last year, reported the Independent newspaper
May 25. The most successful form of gambling is the National Lottery,
said to be played by 70% of the country's population. Currently only 3%
of the population regularly visit casinos, but operators expect this to
increase notably once the new sites open.
According to the Independent there are 370,000 problem gamblers in the
United Kingdom. This is expected to increase to 700,000 within five
Doctors who gathered at the recent annual conference of the British
Medical Association termed gambling a "social poison," the Scotsman
newspaper reported June 28. "Gambling addiction is as corrosive as drug
addiction and alcoholism in terms of family breakup and financial ruin,"
said Dr. David Sinclair, a general practitioner.
Canada's Vanier Institute of the Family was also critical of gambling.
It released a study June 11 entitled "Gambling with our (Kids') Futures:
Gambling as a Family Policy Issue."
The author, Arlene Moscovitch, noted that the country abounds in places
where you can lose your money: 87,000 gambling machines; 33,000 lottery
ticket centers; 60 permanent casinos; and 250 racetracks and
teletheaters. There are also 25,000 licenses for bingo, temporary
raffles, and pull tabs, such as lottery-type tickets.
In 2003-04, government-run gambling rang up a gross profit of $13
billion Canadian ($11.6 billion U.S.), an increase of $700 million
Canadian ($629 million U.S.) from the reported profits of the year
before. Of that, $6.4 billion Canadian was net profit for the provinces.
People are continually presented with visions of the "good life" to be
gained through getting lucky and raking in a big win. That message
arrives via numerous gambling advertisements in print, on radio,
television, the Internet and billboards, Moscovitch noted.
The Vanier Institute paper cited research on Canadian gamblers showing
The per-adult gambling loss in Canada for 2003-04 was $596 Canadian
nearly $50 Canadian per person per month.
Household spending is estimated at $1,080 Canadian, higher than the
amounts spent on education ($1,007 Canadian) and personal care ($834
Lower-income households spend proportionally more of their financial
resources on gambling, making it a so-called voluntary regressive tax.
About 40% of government revenue from gambling comes from the 2-4% of the
adult population who struggle with a gambling addiction.
Moscovitch presented a variety of research demonstrating the negative
effects of excessive gambling on family life and personal relationships.
Problems range from bankruptcy, to family breakup, fraud, theft,
homelessness and even suicide.
In terms of treating these ill effects, the paper notes that recent
research emphasizes the need to move from a disease model that mainly
focuses on gambling as an individual pathology, to a public health model
that first considers the impact of gambling on the community.
Thus the issue could be dealt with by means of public health campaigns
similar to those regarding alcohol and tobacco. Education, and changing
attitudes, is important, particularly among youth, Moscovitch said.
The Catholic Church is also anxious about gambling. Bishop Frederick
Henry sent a letter on the issue to all 97 schools in the Calgary
Catholic School District. In his letter, dated June 20, the bishop of
Calgary noted that last Dec. 9 he asked Calgary Catholic School Trustees
to put an end to the use of casino and bingo fund-raising ventures.
The trustees, he noted, have decided not to put an end to gambling,
preferring to leave such a decision up to each school. Bishop Henry
termed this decision "seriously flawed and based on a series of
The prelate commented that while the Catechism of the Catholic Church
states that gambling is not intrinsically wrong (provided certain
conditions are fulfilled), there are specific problems with the Canadian
situation that led him to wanting the practice to be banned from
Not only is "the whole industry is based on greed," he noted, but it
also leaves many people damaged in its wake. "It is morally wrong for a
Catholic institution to formally cooperate in an industry that exploits
the weak and vulnerable," Bishop Henry concluded. A point of view that
increasing numbers are coming to share. ZE06070801