Is It Gambling Or Gaming?

Gambling is disappearing in America. Betting continues at a record pace but it is not called gambling. It is now called gaming. Is it just a game?

The popularity of poker games on TV has caught on in a big way. Youth are especially absorbed in it. In some cities there are floating youth poker games held at a different place each night with guards. Increasingly after parents go to bed at night their youth stay up and gamble on line.

A survey is soon to be released on gambling among college athletes. I am privy to the part of the study that is complete. It shows a dramatic rise in gambling among athletes. There is more gambling among Division III athletes than any other. The sports in which participants bet most often are, in order, golf, lacrosse, and wrestling. Athletes involved in these sports normally come from more affluent backgrounds and have more money to wager.

However, 82 Division I athletes reported being involved in gambling on the outcome of a football game. That may not represent 82 different games but it does involve 82 individuals.

Is it gaming not gambling?
Following is a true story told to me by the Division I coach involved. One of his athletes came to him very upset. He had been offered a ride to practice by a complimentary individual he thought to be a fan. The dorm and practice field were some distance apart. As they drove the driver complimented the athlete as being “a game breaker.” He recounted plays in earlier games in which a play involving the athlete had determined the outcome of the game.

The driver parked on the edge of the parking lot and told the athlete he wanted his team to lose and that he could determine the outcome. Then he told the athlete to open the glove compartment. Upon doing so he saw a couple of bundles of one hundred dollar bills with a gun on top of them. The driver said, “You are going to get one of those. The choice is yours.”

The school had a losing tradition but was now winning big. The bookies were late catching on to this and it was costing them big money.

The coach called the FBI and they took charge of the case. The athlete was clean and played out the winning season as a champion. Gaming?

On line gambling, lottery, and TV’s popular gambling shows all saturate our culture. On the Internet enter the keyword “gambling” and you will find 800,001 sites. By now probably more. It is the current in thing with youth. The habituating nature has spawned a number of organizations dedicated to helping problem gamblers. Many of these have web sites. There are also sites designed to teach a person the basis of betting. Excuse me, gaming.

This is another item for parents to put on their list of things about which to talk with their youth. Remember, there are no free lunches. When someone wins a lot of folks lose.