Het spel of de knikkers
May 16, 2008
Whether it’s a cockfight, female Indian wrestlers, illegal card games or dog and horse races: there’s a lot of money involved in gambling all over the world. People will bet on anything! And sometimes, they put more at stake than they can afford.
Gambling through the ages
Gambling is timeless. In Mesopotamia, the current Iraq, 5000 year old dice have been found. Chinese texts from 600 BC talk of gambling, and putting money on dice games was already such a big problem in ancient Rome, that it was forbidden.
The negative effect of gambling on a society was recognized very early on. It comes as no surprise that governments and religious authorities have forbidden and discouraged it through the ages. But with little effect: August, the first Roman emperor loved gambling despite the fact that it was illegal, and he and his family often played dice for money in his palace.
Problem and profit at the same time
Nowadays gambling is often seen as an addiction and people who spend all their money on betting are seen as patients. They have a phsychological disorder called ‘pathological gambling’, a compulsive disorder.
In many countries gambling is restricted. Nevada was known as the only state in the US where gambling was legal. This resulted in the former gambling capital of the world Las Vegas and a lot of money for the State. So even though gambling is seen as a problem in a lot of Western countries, our governments make a lot of money by selling gambling licenses and monopolizing lotteries.
Local and national governments in the US receive about 5.2 billion dollars a year from gambling licenses and taxes on casino profits. Casino’s, bookmakers and lotteries in the US made a profit of almost 85 billion dollars in 2005. Legalised gambling is a big source of income for most governments. The new Las Vegas is Macau, just off shore of China. The city gets 70 percent of it’s income from the gambling industry. Thousands, maybe millions, Chinese tourists come to Macau’s casino’s and betting palaces every year. So it’s hardly surprising that governments all over the world have started a war on the hugely popular internet gambling.
Online poker plays alone, are responsible for an estimated 2.4 billion dollar profit a year and that amount is growing every year. Because gambling on the internet is relatively anonymous, it can be used to launder money made by illegal activities. Online gamblers also have a bigger risk of becoming anonymous gambling addicts, without anyone noticing it. But online gambling is hard to control and most governments are unable to create fitting laws for it.
It’s all a gamble
Gambling is difficult to ban: people will always find ways to go around the law. Like the cockfights that are hugely popular in Nicargua. They used to be popular in Europe too, until a law was made in the 19th century and cockfighting became illegal. So gamblers began betting on different and less violent fights and races. And sports betting is still very popular in Anglo-Saxon countries. But betting on sports matches is growing in popularity. In Bolivia people can place bets on traditional wrestling matches between Indian women. And in India you can bet on primitive type of golf matches, that are played with sticks and stones. The way in which the gambling takes place can differ, but there are gamblers all over the world. And it’ll be almost impossible to change that.