Gambling has been around since time immemorial. Craps were played in Babylon, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, not to mention the centuries-old gambling traditions of India and China. However, large-scale gambling is a relatively new phenomenon. In Europe, for example, until recently, gambling was illegal in most capitals - it was believed that the spirit of virtue should reign in the main city of the country. True, many countries allowed the opening of casinos at resorts. The most famous of these “gambling resorts” - Monte Carlo, French Deauville and German Baden-Baden - became favorite vacation spots of the aristocracy.

In the 19th century, gambling establishments were banned in most of the United States - only in the Wild West were poker, craps and other games of chance considered an integral part of everyday life. But then the crusade to strengthen social morals reached the West, and the gambling business in the country came to an end.

The first modern casino appeared in the United States in 1946 - the famous gangster Bugsy Siegel opened an establishment called “Flamingo” in the desert town of Las Vegas. By that time, the mafia already controlled underground gambling establishments in large cities, and the gangsters understood what incredible money could be earned by doing this business legally. And they understood how easy it is to launder dirty money in legal casinos. But gambling became a nationwide phenomenon in the late 1980s, when states one after another legalized gambling.

Economic effect

State and city authorities, not wanting to raise taxes and cut spending, treat casinos as a source of budget replenishment. It is difficult for economically backward regions to resist the promises of casino owners, who promise to attract tourist players to the region, replenish the local treasury and create thousands of jobs.

Indeed, at first glance, casinos are not much different from bars, cinemas and other entertainment venues - except that they hit the client’s pocket harder. However, critics argue that the spread of casinos is shaping a gambling mentality in society: people stop believing that wealth is earned through hard work and begin to hope for easy money. True, due to the fact that the widespread legalization of gambling is a fairly new phenomenon, no one can yet say exactly what impact the massive spread of gambling houses has on the economy, on the volume of investments, on the savings of citizens. One thing is clear: the economic revival promised by casino owners to lagging regions is often nothing more than an illusion.

The most striking example is Atlantic City, the second largest gambling center in America. When the first casinos opened here in 1978, everyone expected that gambling establishments would breathe life into the economically backward resort. Indeed, the city was soon flooded with millions of tourists. The casinos provided jobs for about 40,000 people and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the state of New Jersey. However, it later turned out that they simply took away customers from other establishments - less than ten years after the opening of the first casino, about a third of all local restaurants and shops ceased to exist. The crime rate has increased by 230% in 12 years. 25% of the population left Atlantic City. And aside from the glittering casino lights, the rest of the city today is dirty, broken streets with boarded-up storefronts. By the way, the authorities of New York, Washington and large American cities, even now, in the midst of the largest gambling boom in history, do not allow casinos to open on their territories - they are so closely associated with organized crime, political corruption and a number of other ills.

According to some estimates, casinos make more money per square meter than any other business. This business, as you know, is built on the laws of mathematical probability - at the end of the day, the gambling house always wins. According to the latest major study, in 1998 the cumulative losses of visitors to American gaming establishments amounted to $51 billion. But this money could be used for home improvement, education, “a good increase in pension” or the purchase of new cars. It’s not for nothing that opponents of gambling call casino revenues a “tax on fools.”

The widespread spread of gambling is a cyclical phenomenon. A complete ban never brings results - people start playing in underground dens. Then the gambling business is legalized, and gambling becomes a mass phenomenon. Then, when the negative consequences of the general passion for gambling appear, society again demands that they be banned.


British experience

Perhaps the best approach to solving the problem was found in Great Britain. Gambling business was legalized here in 1963. But when a surge in crime followed, the British passed a new law in 1968 that strictly regulated gambling. In London, for example, there are several dozen casinos, but they are all small establishments that function as private clubs. To enter the casino, you must pay a membership fee in advance. They have strict restrictions on alcohol consumption and do not accept credit cards. In short, the British strategy in relation to gambling establishments is to, by legalizing casinos, prevent them from becoming a mass phenomenon.

However, now the British government, like the governments of many other countries, is experiencing a serious lack of finances and intends to abolish all restrictions in the gambling business. A law that would allow hundreds of large Las Vegas-style casinos to open across the country is already under consideration in parliament. It looks like another “gambling cycle” is about to begin in the UK.