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Gambling

Mapping the American Moral Landscape

Alan Wolfe and Erik C. Owens, editors

Publication Year: 2009

Why has gambling become so accepted in the U.S. when other historical vices, like smoking and drinking, continue to evoke morality-based opposition? That simple but intriguing question guides this path-breaking volume, the first interdisciplinary academic study of gambling. Led by the renowned Alan Wolfe and with essays by experts at the country’s premiere centers in public policy, clinical addiction, law, gaming, psychology, sociology, moral philosophy, theology, and the arts, Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape is a tour de force of the booming cultural and moral phenomenon that has become woven into the fabric of American life. Both an attempt to understand and an effort to predict its future consequences, the book will prove evocative and critical reading for American civic and church leaders, activists, historians and government officials.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

Early drafts of chapters in this volume were first presented at a conference entitled “Gambling and the American Moral Landscape,” held at Boston College in October 2007. After two years of planning, the conference coincidentally took place amidst a surge of public interest in the topic in Massachusetts, where the...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Gambling has had an astonishingly broad impact on American life, yet the academic attention paid to it has been uneven at best. In 2005 the American Gaming Association estimated total revenue from gambling at $84.65 billion for the year—nearly...

The Politics and Policy of Gambling

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pp. 9-

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1 The Importance of a Good Cause Ends and Means in State Lotteries

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pp. 11-38

Lottery gambling is a problematic activity: those opposed to gambling on moral grounds object to government sponsorship of lotteries; revenues raised from them have distributional patterns similar to regressive taxes; and, like other forms of widely available...

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2 The Politics of Sovereignty and Public Policy toward Gambling

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pp. 39-70

Sovereignty is commonly understood to be the ultimate authority to govern a people. A sovereign government stands apart from and independent of other governments. In unitary political systems such as France’s, all sovereignty resides in the central government; other governing units live and move and have their being at...

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3 Negotiating a Different Terrain Morality, Policymaking, and Indian Gaming

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pp. 71-96

The history of gambling suggests that risk-taking and faith in luck are part of the shared human experience.1 Varying degrees of moral objection to gambling have coexisted alongside gambling throughout history and across cultures. In modern times...

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4 New Politics, Same Old Vice Gambling in the Twenty-first Century

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pp. 97-112

As several chapters in this volume point out, gambling politics and policy in the United States have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Forty-five years ago, not one state ran a lottery, and only one state—that perennial renegade, Nevada...

Individual Behavior and Social Impact

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pp. 113-

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5 Behavioral and Brain Measures of Risk-Taking

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pp. 115-146

Gambling is America’s favorite pastime by volume. The total amount won from gamblers in the United States in 2006 was over $57 billion. To put that number in perspective, the total sales for movie tickets and music recordings was around $20 billion, and...

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6 Gambling with the Family?

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pp. 147-174

Evidence of gambling can be found across cultures and throughout time. Hebraic, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations engaged in various forms of gambling, and the Mahabharat, a central book of Hinduism, describes a gambler who wagers and loses his kingdom and his wife.1 The persistence of gambling...

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7 Gambling and Morality A Neuropsychiatric Perspective

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pp. 175-192

Evidence of gambling can be found across cultures and throughout time. Hebraic, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations engaged in various forms of gambling, and the Mahabharat, a central book of Hinduism, describes a gambler who wagers and loses his kingdom and his wife.1 The persistence of gambling...

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8 The Unproblematic Normalization of Gambling in America

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pp. 193-210

For the last forty years in America, the question of what society is to do with certain legally prohibited but socially desired activities like gambling, drugs, prostitution, and abortion have occupied legal scholars and reformers. Following the lead of the British...

Theology, Gambling, and Risk

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pp. 211-

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9 The Memory of SinGambling in Jewish Law and Ethics

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pp. 213-226

Self-reported levels of religious belief and observance are higher in the United States than in any other developed country. Given organized religion’s negative stance toward gambling, one might expect a high level of public concern and disapproval, especially as gambling expands through state lotteries, casinos, and the...

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10 Grace and Gambling

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pp. 227-256

In today’s America, state lotteries are major public funding sources, and federal policy considers commercial gambling a mostly harmless pastime. The current climate makes the familiar religious critiques of gambling in the United States from the late eighteenth through the first half of the twentieth centuries seem...

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11 The Criminal Law of Gambling A Puzzling History

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pp. 257-290

Beginning in the 1880s,1 a series of moralist crusades produced federal criminal laws banning various alleged vices, or as much of the vices as the federal government was permitted to ban: polygamy in American territories (including Utah, where the then-polygamous Mormon church chiefly resided), the mailing...

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12 Playing and Praying What’s Luck Got to Do with It?

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pp. 291-298

While it remains true that significant numbers of Americans— notably conservative and evangelical Protestants—view any form of gambling with suspicion, if not outright hostility (Seventhday Adventists, Mormons, and Presbyterians, for example, have issued unequivocal condemnations of any form of gambling), for...

Gambling in American Culture

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pp. 299-

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13 Beyond Pathology The Cultural Meanings of Gambling

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pp. 301-322

In contemporary public discourse, idioms of morality and health often overlap and merge. Critics and clinicians who are reluctant to resort to the language of evil remain perfectly comfortable with the language of pathology. Certainly this is true of debate...

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14 Civic Values and “Education Lotteries” The Irony of Funding Public Education with Lottery Revenues

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pp. 323-342

Americans are extraordinarily fond of their lotteries. In the last forty years the percentage of the U.S. population that lives in a state with a legally sanctioned lottery has gone from 0 to 90 percent. Accompanying this market saturation has been a certain popular satisfaction (hovering at over 70% in 20061) with the large sums that lotteries provide to state coffers, with the fact...

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15 A Tale of Two “Sins” Regulation of Gambling and Tobacco

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pp. 343-372

The year is 1964. Nearly 40 percent of the adult population in the United States smokes cigarettes and cigarette commercials account for 15 percent of network television advertising. Meanwhile, New Hampshire becomes the first state in over sixty years to conduct a lottery. The New Hampshire lottery will conduct...

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16 The Culture War Issue That Never Was Why the Right and Left Have Overlooked Gambling

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pp. 373-394

An industry does not become as big as the gambling industry in the United States has become without deep and direct involvement in politics. An activity that is increasingly relied upon to fund services offered by the government cannot help but become...

Notes

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pp. 395-448

Bibliography

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pp. 449-490

List of Contributors

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pp. 491-498

Index

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pp. 499-509


E-ISBN-13: 9781602585126
E-ISBN-10: 1602585121
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602581951
Print-ISBN-10: 1602581959

Page Count: 516
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Gambling -- Moral and ethical aspects -- United States.
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