The Evolution of Net Gambling: Is it a Good Thing?
December 11, 2009 2:43pm CST
When you look around at the gambling atmosphere in this day and age, it’s hard to believe that people were once sneaking into underground basements and kneeling down in broken-glass-filled back alleyways to gamble for a few bucks. With the mammoth monuments we erect in the name of gaming excess today, it’s almost as if we embrace it as a culture. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Gambling may be appreciated by a rather large niche, larger if you count the closeted chasers and the hypocritical types, but, by and large, it’s frowned upon heavily in the mainstream outside of some select countries and countries’ “safe” zones—so to speak—which allow games of chance to be played. This is where gambling standards tend to become a bit contradictory, or at least askew. Most of the world believes in some sort of higher power, whether it’s the Christian God, Allah, or another deity. In most religions, gambling is strictly prohibited. And forget about the fact that a god may have foreseen Stanley Ho’s newest casino in Macau and decided it was bad news, when these respective holy edicts were etched the people of the day were playing with a prehistoric version of dice. Take America for an example of the blurred standards. A culture that is primarily Christian conservative, yet when it comes to revenue, it’s suddenly “okay” for places like Nevada and New Jersey to have casinos (excluding the Native American land, obviously). This is like going on a diet for five days a week, allowing Mondays and Wednesdays to be binge-fests. The culture seems a bit give and take with their land-based casinos. And for whatever reasons they allow them to go up, it’s fine with most of us. I mean, it’s not like gambling is all over the place, right? Oh, this brings us to the Internet and the massive explosion of online gambling. Not that land-based mega-resorts are obsolete, but if a person wants to get his or her gambling fix, online casinos and poker rooms are only a click away if you’re one of the, oh, 1.5 billion people in the world with ready access to an Internet-ready computer. Suddenly, aspects of the culture that learned to live with gambling cities here and there are inundated with endless games. This has caused some people to balk at the idea of ‘Net gambling, and some even claim it’s like the new XXX material – only more hazardous to both children and adults due to its addictive nature. Gambling is all over the place. What’s your poison? Would you like to take a spin on the roulette wheel or sit down for a game of blackjack? What about the ultra-popular Texas Hold’em or another poker game? Hey, you can even bet any type of sporting event you want and play the ponies for a little bit of that betting thrill. The sheer volume of gambling online begs the question: Is it too much? A parent’s biggest fear with gambling of this magnitude may be that the child isn’t protected enough. There is absolutely no substitute for good parenting and personal responsibility, but if your child has access to a computer, how do you keep them away from gambling sites unless you’re watching them with the eagle-eye? Most betting sites can even be accessed on school computers. And let’s not even get started on the iPhones and Blackberry devices out there that have access to the Web. Even a parental block on the computer cannot possibly safeguard against anyone from accessing a website when the niche is so incredibly varied that it doesn’t even have to use “gambling” or “betting” in the title. At the vast majority of online gambling sites dealing with real-money transactions, all you need to get in is a credit card. If little Johnny grabs hold of his mother’s Visa in all his 12-year-old glory, trying to imitate the pros he’s seen on ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage, there’s nothing stopping him from filling out the form and claiming to be over the legal age. And I think we can all agree that kids have done dumber things, so you couldn’t put this past most if they set their mind to it. The way gambling has evolved isn’t as dangerous to the whole culture as is it to a certain aspect of it. Responsible adults have shown remarkable restraint with online gambling. The so-called “experts” predicted that, with the plethora of betting games available, people would be rolling into gamblers anonymous, hand over fist. But they haven’t. However, when we’re speaking of kids and online gambling, the addiction aspect isn’t quite as concerning as the impact on a family due to a monetary loss. Do you think that online casinos and other gaming venues are doing enough to keep underage individuals from gambling? And do you think that the amount of gaming websites have grown completely out of control? Tell me what you think about the business.