Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Crime and Criminal Law » Gambling - The Historical Lottery, The Contemporary Lottery, Extent Of Gambling, Gambling And Organized Crime, Native American Tribal Gambling

Gambling - Extent Of Gambling

commission national criminal acceptance

According to the 1976 report of the U.S. National Commission on the Review of the National Policy toward Gambling, 80 percent of Americans favored the legalization of some form of gambling, and two-thirds had actually gambled, signaling widespread public acceptability. Roughly a quarter of a century later, acceptance had escalated into embrace. The 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which described the intervening period as "transformative," found that by 1999 more than forty states had legalized pari-mutual racetracks and betting; thirty-seven states had established lotteries, and several others were considering introducing them. Casino gambling expanded from Nevada to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and then nationwide to the gulf coast of Mississippi, to New Orleans, to Midwestern cities on riverboats, to Detroit, and to western mining towns. The immense transformation has been accompanied by an acceptance of gambling in mainstream culture. The winning lottery numbers in ever bigger jackpot games are routinely announced on the evening news. Racetrack betting takes place over the telephone and in off-track neighborhood betting parlors in New York City. "Legions of employees" testified to the National Gambling Impact Commission about the hope and opportunities that casino jobs have brought to their families. Others, however, told tales of families devastated by problem gambling, of blight and sleaze, of a work ethic undercut by the pursuit of easy money.

When made criminal, gambling is quintessentially a victimless crime. Players rarely, if ever, call police to report that an illegal bookmaker has taken their bet. New York City's Knapp Commission found systemic corruption where police regularly received payoffs from illegal bookmakers and numbers racketeers. In recognition of this, and the consequent difficulties of enforcement, the trend in gambling law and policy has been away from strict prohibition to regulation, with distinctions made according to type and sponsorship of gambling activity. This is not entirely new. Even at common law, gambling was not criminal if the game of chance was played privately. Only when conducted openly or notoriously, and where inexperienced persons were fleeced, was gambling a crime. Most gambling statutes imposed minor misdemeanor penalties for public social gambling, with somewhat harsher penalties for gambling with a minor. Gambling by a professional player might be classified as a felony. The 1976 National Gambling Commission gave considerable attention to state criminal laws prohibiting gambling—and found that they were more widely violated than any other type of prohibition. Criminal violation of state gambling laws was scarcely an issue for the National Gambling Impact Commission. Instead, the Commission focused on social policy and consequences of the widespread growth and acceptance of legal gambling.

Gambling - Gambling And Organized Crime [next] [back] Gambling - The Contemporary Lottery

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or