Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is America Addicted to Gambling?

We know that John McCain likes to roll the dice, both in and out of the casinos and with other people's money, so to speak, but so does -- did -- Wall Street.
Poynter: We are a gambling, risk-taking culture, perhaps a product of our frontier origins, where greed overcomes any vestige of Puritan temperance. I've not seen a discussion of how gambling has consumed us in the context of the catastrophic risk-taking that has led America to the brink of economic disaster.

America is addicted to gambling. Let us count the ways:
State lotteries have been used more and more to fund essential government services, such as education. If you don't think lotteries penalize the poor, go to a 7-Eleven sometime and check out who is purchasing tickets.
Casino gambling, much of it related to Native American tribes, has spread from places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City to all corners of the country, including the Bible-thumping South.
Poker -- especially Texas Hold 'em -- has become a television sport on ESPN and other cable channels. Online gambling, along with pornography, is one of the few businesses to make huge profits through the Internet.
The World Series of Poker is attracting younger and younger gamblers, many of whom learned their trade online as high school students.
Fantasy sports leagues have changed the way people, especially men, view sporting events, not through the lens of their favorite team, but through the success of individual players they have drafted onto their virtual team.
Sports gambling is huge in America. Oddsmakers advertise on sports radio programs, and almost every newspaper I know publishes the betting odds in agate type. An NBA referee is in prison for point shaving.
But what has this to do with Wall Street, you may ask. Read on