Gambling is an addictive activity, and it can cause major harm. It’s not uncommon for people with gambling problems to become preoccupied with the activity and spend increasing amounts of money. They may also suffer from restlessness and irritability when they attempt to limit or stop their gambling. They may gamble to get away from their problems, to relieve stress, or to feel better about themselves. Some people may even lie about their involvement in gambling to cover up their problem.
The gambling industry is a major industry in the United States. In 1995, total gambling revenues in the United States were over $40 billion. This figure doesn’t include illegal gambling, which accounts for a portion of the total. Other forms of entertainment include movie theaters and amusement parks. As such, gambling has a significant presence in the American culture.
Gambling is often measured in terms of the “handle,” or the amount wagered prior to prize payouts. While this measurement is popular, it tends to overstate the importance of gaming to the economy. A better measure of gambling’s contribution to the economy is gross revenues. A player might lose $4 in a casino, but they would have earned an additional $1 in gross revenues. By analyzing the numbers, it’s easy to determine how much money a particular activity costs.
Gambling has a history of links to organized crime. A recent Los Angeles Times article reported on the Mafia’s attempt to take over an Indian casino in California. While the attempt failed, the article cited information from a lengthy federal investigation. In a similar case, a former State Director of Finance was convicted of gambling-related crimes.