Government and the Transformation of the Gaming Industry

Government and the Transformation of the Gaming Industry

Richard A. McGowan

The book is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the historical and cultural forces that have shaped the new gaming industry. The second part of the book analyzes how each segment (pari–mutuel betting, lotteries and casinos) competes in the new industry. The political and social implications of gaming are the focus of the final part, which concludes with a series of recommendations that will enable the industry, public policy officials and anti–gambling activists to construct policies that mitigate some of the problems associated with gambling.

Chapter 2: From Gambling to Gaming: What’s in a Name

Richard A. McGowan

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


INTRODUCTION Two conclusions can be drawn from the previous chapter about the current ‘wave’ of gambling activity. First, unlike the other previous waves that utilized either lotteries or pari-mutuel betting as the major source of revenues, the current wave of gambling activity is centered around casino gambling. The dramatic increase in casino gambling has fuelled the boom in gambling in every section of the US. Casinos are now operated in 27 states and for any American it is no more than a two-hour drive to a local casino (American Gaming Association, 1999). Second, the social acceptance of gambling by the US population is also unparalleled. In the previous wave of gambling activity, it was ‘tolerated’ as long as the ‘good cause’ needed to be funded. But public policy officials now seem to view gambling not as a necessary evil but, as an integral part of the entertainment industry. Currently, there are only three states without some form of legalized gambling (Utah, Hawaii and Tennessee). What changes have taken place in the moral and cultural traditions of the US that have enabled gambling to flourish? Perhaps the answer to this question lies in how the gambling industry prefers to refer to itself in its various public forums, namely as the gaming industry. As gambling exploded throughout the 1990s, the casino industry established public interest groups that would represent its views to public policy officials. All of these organizations utilize the term ‘gaming’ rather than ‘gambling’ as they seek to curry the...

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