Gambling is an industry that is undergoing tremendous change. It was not too long ago that Nevada was the only state in the union that allowed casino gambling. Today, numerous states either are considering legalizing gambling, or have already done so. There are two factors that are driving the change. First, Native Americans have won the right to establish casinos on their lands regardless of the laws of the state in which they are located. The establishment of these casinos has softened the general public’s attitudes toward casino gambling and has led to the introduction of legislative initiatives that permit it, or to voter referendums on the issue. Often, in each situation, the initiatives have resulted in outcomes favorable to gambling. The other factor that has led to legalization of gambling is the economic impact. Many of the regions where gambling has been legalized have realized untold economic benefits in terms of taxes, jobs and development of infrastructure, etc.
Despite the economic developments, the idea of legalizing gambling is not without controversy. Many argue that despite the economic benefits, there is also associated tragedy as people who are addicted to gambling have been known to gamble until they have lost everything and have wreaked havoc on their families and personal lives.
Casino gambling is not the only type of gambling that exists, nor is it the only kind of gambling addressed by state laws. As can be seen in the following chapter, there are many different ways to gamble. The most common subject of regulation is betting. Pari-mutuel wagering is a betting pool in which those who bet on competitors finishing in the top three positions share the total amount bet, less a percentage for the management. Horse racing, dog racing or betting on sporting events are those most frequently and specifically banned. However regulation of regional events is common. Alaska lists about ten different events that are allowed, including many that would be unthinkable in the south: Deep Freeze Classic, Snow Machine Classic, and the Ice Classic are examples. Florida lists a number of legal gambling activities that relate specifically to the state’s large number of retired citizens: penny-ante games with winnings not exceeding $10 …. including poker, pinochle, bridge, dominos, mahjong that are conducted by adults within a dwelling. One of the more unusual prohibitions is found in Massachusetts where gaming is not permitted within one mile of a cattle show or military muster.
Overall, the subject of legalized gambling as an industry is far from settled and is likely to change regularly in the coming years.