Gambling has often been associated with addiction and crime throughout history. This has left mainstream society with the impression that gambling only leads to bad things.
But the truth is that this activity isn’t all bad. In fact, there are some distinct benefits you can gain from gambling.
Because it denies the reality of God’s sovereignty (by affirming the existence of luck or chance) Because it is built on irresponsible stewardship (tempting people to throw away their money) Be.
The most obvious perk is entertainment, because people play casino games and the lottery for fun. Gambling provides unique thrills that few other hobbies can match.
Of course, many people are aware of gambling’s entertainment side. But research shows us that there are other benefits that not everybody knows about.
Gambling: The Good, The Bad And The Crazy. Gambling is one of the most controversial topics in modern day society. Some people think it’s the best thing on the planet, others reckon casinos are the work of Satan. For every person that thinks gambling laws should be relaxed, there is someone else who feels regulations should be even harsher. Due to all this, you will often find gambling banned in some of the modern countries. Gambling addiction is the key reason why Japan, as one of the most developed countries in the world, lift the ban on gambling only in 2019. The law that restricted gambling dated all the way back to the year 1903.
I’m going to discuss some research-backed reasons why gambling is good for you. I’ll also cover several other benefits that it provides.
1- Gambling Improves Your Health
Nobody thinks that playing a blackjack hand or rolling craps dice will have any positive impact on your health. After all, you’re barely burning any calories through these activities.
Through a study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Yale researchers showed a positive correlation between recreational gambling and improved health.
Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues conducted interviews with 2,417 adults on their health and gambling habits.
She and her team compared the health of people who gamble versus those who don’t. The team measured health by levels of past or current alcohol use, substance abuse, depression, mental health treatment, general health, incarceration, and bankruptcy.
What Desai ultimately found is that gamblers have fewer instances of bad health indicators in comparison to non-gamblers.
“Although the underlying reasons remain hypothetical, proposed reasons included the increased activity, socialization, and cognitive stimulation that are related to engaging in gambling,” Desai noted.
“Such a mechanism would be consistent with the literature on healthy aging, which indicates that more socially and cognitively active elders are, in general, healthier.”
Desai and her team didn’t determine a reason why gambling leads to better health. She said that the study results could indicate that healthier people enjoy gambling.
Either way, it’s clear that gambling doesn’t always induce the stress that’s commonly portrayed in movies and TV shows.
2- Gambling Makes You Happier
Dr. Mark R. Dixon, a professor and coordinator of the Behavior Analysis and Therapy Program at Southern Illinois University, conducted research on gambling’s effect on people’s happiness. And the results, which appeared in the Research in Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, show that this hobby gives people more joy.
Dixon’s team had nursing home residents engage in different forms of gambling. They then used a 4-component analysis to measure happiness against the baseline.
The team discovered that the participants’ happiness levels increased when gambling versus the baseline. The baseline measurements, which included everything from sitting alone to watching television, had zero levels of happiness.
Those participating in the study played blackjack and 5-card stud poker. And the researchers determined with certainty that players got enjoyment out of both games.Note:
One catch is that the participants weren’t betting real money.
But at the very least, Dixon’s research reveals that casino games themselves give people satisfaction.
3- You Learn Skills and Apply Them
Most people don’t look at gambling as a learning experience. But it actually is when considering the goals and strategy involved.
You must learn how to play any new casino game that you try. And some of these come with complex strategy that must mastered.
Why Is Gambling Good
Blackjack is one game where you need to know a combination of rules and strategy. Here’s a quick synopsis of the rules that players need to learn.
- Players receive two face-up cards
- Dealer receives one upcard and one face-down card (North American rules)
- Player can hit, stand, double down, or split (with a pair)
- Player wins if their score is closer to 21 than the dealer’s score
- The bet is a push if both hands tie
- Dealer or player will “bust out” if they go over a score of 21
- Player or dealer have a “natural blackjack” if their first two cards equal 21
- Player receives a 3:2 or 6:5 pay-out on their original bet with a natural blackjack
- Player isn’t supposed to touch their cards (live blackjack)
Learning the rules is only the first part of blackjack because you should also study strategy to improve your chances of winning. And you can use either a blackjack strategy chart or online trainer to better your skills.
Blackjack isn’t the only skill-based casino game, though. Let ‘Em Ride, Mississippi Stud, Poker, sports betting, three-card poker, and video poker all give skilled players a better chance to win.
Poker is the ultimate casino challenge because you’re competing against human opponents. Unlike a house-banked game that’s played against the casino, optimal strategy changes based on whom you’re playing against.An Example
A simple example is if you’re playing heads-up against somebody who goes all-in on every hand.
Perhaps you normally like to play a small hand range and will fold the majority of your cards. But this instance calls on you to play a wider hand range to take advantage of bad decisions that your wild opponent is making.
Studying gambling strategy and working through various situations are skills that go beyond the casino tables.
4- Gambling Promotes the Use of Math
Most people don’t like the thought of doing math. But improving your math skills can be fun when including an entertaining casino game.
Most forms of gambling involve mathematics to some degree. This can be as simple as deciding how much your slots bet will be worth to working out detailed poker odds.
Here’s a simple math situation that involves playing slot machines.
- You’re playing a slot machine with 50 paylines
- You can change your coin size from $0.01 to $1
- You don’t want to bet any more than $1 per spin
- A $0.01 coin size means you’ll be risking $0.50 per spin
- A $0.02 coin size means you’ll be risking $1 per spin
Here’s a more complex example involving poker pot odds, where you use math to decide whether a drawing hand is worth calling.
- A pot is worth $70
- Your opponent bets $10
- The total pot is now $80
- You must call $10 to stay in the hand
- Divide 10 by 80 to find out what percentage you’re paying
- Your pot odds are 12.5%
The next step is to figure out hand equity and “outs,” or the number of cards that will complete your drawing hand.
- You have an open-ended straight draw (i.e., 5-6-7-8)
- 8 cards will complete your straight (four 4s and 9s)
- This gives you 8 outs
- A common hand equity formula is: [outs x 2] +1 = equity
- [8 x 2] + 1 = 17
- Your hand equity is 17%
- You should call, because your 17% hand equity is higher than your 12.5% pot odds
You can choose casino games based on the degree of math that you’re comfortable using.
You obviously don’t want to play poker if you’re not into complicated math. This is where simpler games like baccarat, craps, roulette, and slot machines come in handy.
Regardless of how easy or simple the game may be, the point is that you’ll use math sometimes and not even realize it. And this is a good way to subconsciously boost your mathematical abilities for other areas of life.
5- A Good Way to Relax and Socialize
Why Are Casinos Bad
Earlier I mentioned how the most obvious gambling benefit is entertainment. After all, these games wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t any fun.
Some people enjoy using a portion of their disposable income to blow off steam in the casino. They find that the challenge of blackjack or poker is a nice escape from their everyday life.
Others get thrills out of chasing big payouts, such as a progressive slots jackpot or blackjack side payouts. These give you the opportunity to pay a small amount to play for a large sum of money.
The social aspect can happen through a number of casino games, including baccarat, craps, poker, sports betting, and slot machines.Note:
Craps is one of the best casino games with regard to socialization. The reason why is because many players bet on the shooter winning (pass line and come bets), rather than wagering with the house (don’t pass line and don’t come).
This majority of players who bet together also share wins and lament losses with each other. The end result is an exciting atmosphere that can’t be matched in the casino.
Here are some examples of how people socialize when playing casino games.
Why Is Gambling Bad
- A group of friends sitting down to the baccarat table with each other
- Somebody playing live dealer blackjack on their smartphone and having a conversation with the dealer
- A few poker players chatting about an off-topic subject while playing
- Friends making online sports bets and watching the game together
- A couple of buddies visiting the casino and playing on slot machines next to each other
These scenarios represent some of the many ways that gambling can be turned into a social affair amongst friends or even strangers.
6- Money Management
Yet one more way that gambling benefits you is the practice of using money management, a.k.a. bankroll management.Important:
We all have to manage finances, the bills, and handle other expenses. Gambling will help you out in these matters because you need to properly measure risk against your funds.
The first thing that you need to determine regarding bankroll management is how much money you can afford to risk. Players need to be completely comfortable with the thought that they could lose everything if luck doesn’t go their way.
The best way to figure this out is by determining your monthly/weekly income versus monthly/weekly expenses. Here’s an example.
- You make $3,000 per month after taxes
- You have $2,000 in expenses
- This gives you up to $1,000 in disposable income
- You choose to use $400 per month on gambling
The next step is to figure out what game you’re playing and tailor your bankroll management plan to this. Here’s an example using slot machines.
- The average slots player loses around 300 bets per hour
- You have $300 and would like to stretch this out for a few hours
- 300 bets x 4 hours = 1,200 bets
- 300 / 1,200 = 0.25
- You want to choose a game that allows you to bet $0.25 or less per hour
Unfortunately, some gamblers bypass bankroll management and are surprised when their funds run out. But with just a few minutes of math, you can avoid this and better control your bankroll.
In the broader perspective, you’ll also improve your money management skills and apply these to handling your regular finances.
Attitudes towards gambling have slowly changed over the years. But a good portion of the general population still thinks that this is a bad habit for people to develop.
Most of this negativity revolves around gambling addiction, but the truth is that less than 2% of gamblers are considered the compulsive variety.
Research shows that some of the biggest benefits include improving your happiness and overall health. Other perks involve learning skills, improving math skills, socialization, and practicing money management.
My personal favorite gambling benefits include learning strategy and boosting my mathematical abilities. But you may enjoy one or more of the other aspects better.
Whatever the case may be, though, you’re likely to get some positive aspects out of gambling.
If we learned anything in the United States from prohibition, it was that making something illegal doesn’t stop it from happening (and usually makes it worse). The history of gambling in the US is surely interesting and it’s something we still have to fight for til this day.
I think that when it comes to so-called “vices” in society, there’s always going to be someone arguing against them from a moral standpoint. That’s exactly what we saw in the 1930s in the days of prohibition. Huge numbers of people who argued against the legal sale of alcohol were primarily church goers who argued almost solely from a position of morality.
When they abuse it (or become full alcoholics), they can be violent and a drain on society.
So if we outlaw it, people will stop drinking! People who might have become alcoholics will be safe and protected from this evil scourge. Society as a whole will benefit.
This leaves out all the positive benefits of alcohol of course and assumes that the role of government is to protect people from themselves and restrict their freedoms, but honestly, that’s a bit beside the point here.
Here’s the real point—did it work? And would it work for gambling?
If you know anything about prohibition, you know that it didn’t.
First of all, we can thank prohibition for organized crime in this country. Sure, there was organized crime before to a degree, but they really struggled for funding. When alcohol, which was and is hugely profitable and popular, was suddenly made illegal, the demand didn’t disappear. If anything, it got worse.
There was profit to be made, but all legal alcohol producers were out of business. Some entrepreneurial criminals (who were already committing crimes anyway) say “Gee, we should sell this stuff! Beats the heck out of beating people up for money and robbing banks.”
And they did. And they made an enormous amount of money.
Drinking didn’t stop.
Were these men alcoholics? Certainly a handful may have been, but the vast majority were normal people like you and me.
They enjoyed their drinking, and they didn’t like being told what to do. That’s pretty much how you could describe the entire country.
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You can apply the same line of thinking to any type of problem you name that’s been made illegal. Making gambling illegal will absolutely not stop gambling.
Instead, it will drive gambling underground.
And that’s where we start to run into problems.
1- People Are Going to Gamble Whether It’s Legal or Not
Just like people were going to drink during prohibition despite it being illegal, people are going to gamble no matter what.
I think where people get really tripped up on this issue is that, in their eyes (the prohibitionists), gambling is basically evil (obviously it’s not). But let’s look through their eyes. They see gambling as a sin, and they often see it on the same level as murder or theft. It’s wrong no matter how they look at it.
But for the average person, this is obviously flawed thinking. Murder and theft are crimes that have direct victims. It is impossible for me to steal something without there being a victim.
The same is not the case with gambling or drinking.
Now those who think it should be outlawed will argue that there are victims, that when someone gambles all their money away (which happens extremely rarely), that their families or friends are harmed. I certainly don’t deny that.
The difference is that those victims are not happening in every case. In fact, people become victims so rarely that you have to wonder if it’s really the gambling or alcohol that’s responsible at all. Something like 2.6% of people in the U.S. have a problem gambling. That means that over 97% of people who gamble do so just fine, without creating victims.
So these people think that because victims are marginally possible that the practice should be outlawed completely? That’s way different than theft or murder, which produces a victim in every case.
By that line of thinking, cars should be illegal. Most people don’t know someone who has a problem gambling (because it’s so rare), but almost everyone knows someone who has had their life changed because of a car wreck.
Then they might say, “Well cars serve a purpose! Gambling doesn’t. It’s just a bunch of games.” First of all, I would argue that games serve a hugely positive purpose in society, but let’s lay that aside for a moment. By this line of thinking, all sports should be illegal. Soccer can be dangerous. People drink too much at games. Sometimes there’s even stampedes.
Yet where are the advocates to shut down soccer entirely? They’re hard to find.
Gambling is absolutely a victimless crime. The people who are committing crimes who happen to also gamble are the ones responsible for the problems, not the gambling. If you take away the gambling, they’ll find some outlet for their problems.
So because gambling is a victimless act (just like drinking), people aren’t going to view it the same as theft or murder. They’re going to partake anyway because they just don’t feel bad about it (and they shouldn’t!).
Almost all adults can drink alcohol just fine and act responsibly. The same is true for gambling. Alcohol and gambling are not directly responsible for issues that problem gamblers or problem drinkers cause—the problem gamblers and problem drinkers are the problem.
2- Legalized Gambling Eliminates the Criminal Element (And Reduces It in Other Ways)
When prohibition took place back in the 1930s, alcohol began being created and distributed by criminals. No business could get away with it, and any that tried would have to have a large operation that would almost certainly get found out.
So what happened is that most alcohol was being produced by small numbers of people who had deep levels of trust with each other (or who operated completely alone). Their goal was to make money, and they did.
They weren’t exactly worried about health standards.
This led to a number of problems. When alcohol was legal, there were standards and rules as to how it was made. If a business was selling alcohol that was low quality or actually poisoning people, they’d quickly go out of business, so that became rare. In fact, the best way to make money was to produce high quality alcohol, so suppliers employed people who had a great deal of experience.
When everything moved underground, two things happened. One was that alcohol became suddenly much more valuable (because it was in high demand with a low supply). The other was that all the people who knew how to create great alcohol weren’t doing so because it was illegal.
High demand, high potential profit, and nobody around to make it who knew what they were doing.
Every criminal with even an inkling of how to produce alcohol now had a huge incentive to start producing the stuff. Many people died or went blind during prohibition because they drank low-quality alcohol.
That’s what happens when something victimless is made illegal—criminals take over, and they reduce quality and cause harm.
The exact same thing would happen with gambling were it made completely illegal. It already does happen in states where gambling is illegal.
However, because it’s illegal, it essentially has to be run by criminals. Casino owners and operators across the world are incredibly intelligent, high-functioning individuals who know how to run a business and value customer service. Land based or real money online casinos, just like any other product or service in the world, legal gambling is run at a high level of quality because business owners know quality leads to more money.
Underground gambling doesn’t have this same mindset. First of all, you’re dealing with criminals, so they’re not worried about quality really at all. Second, they have a hard-to-find product. They don’t need to have a high level of quality because they’re the only show in town.
Third, because they’re already criminals, they don’t mind bringing other criminal elements along with them. Illegal gambling can be dangerous for precisely this reason. Many of the people willing to set up something illegal like this may be violent people or have other criminal intentions. They might just rob you and take your money.
And what could you do about it? Call the police? Hardly.
Making gambling illegal makes the activity so much more dangerous. Gambling today in states where it’s legal is absolutely safe, fun, and of a high quality. The legality of it protects everyone and keeps the criminals occupied somewhere else.
I’ll admit that there could be a number of other reasons why gambling should be legal, but I think these are 2 of the best.
Overall, it’s time for lawmakers to dive into the reality that prohibiting gambling can do more bad than good.