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The Ethics of Gambling


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The Ethics of Gambling

  1. 1. TOURISM RECREATION RESEARCH VOL. 39(3), 2014: 453–486 ISSN (print): 0250–8281/ISSN (online): 2320–0308 ©2014 Tourism Recreation Research Research Probe Ethics of Gambling? Context Gambling is one of the most controversial leisure activities in contemporary society. Despite its far-reaching popularity, many negative cultural and social implications have been attributed to gambling. In contrast, numerous destinations look to legalization and expansion of gambling businesses to rejuvenate their declining economies, particularly in times of escalating competition between tourism destinations. Nevertheless, in the lead essay of this research probe, Amir Shani argued that with respect to gambling studies, tourism scholarship has overly focused on cost-benefit analyses and residents' attitudes toward gambling, while neglecting imperative philosophical questions that are essential in addressing the ethics of gambling. Shani presents an ethical assessment of gambling, which evaluates the strengths, validity and accuracy of some of the prominent ethical arguments against its legalization. His conclusion is that the anti-gambling position cannot be ethically justified, as its application substantially infringes upon fundamental individual rights and civil liberties, and allows for the use of excessive authority of society over the individual. The responses by Chhabra and Fong, Leung and Law suggest a pragmatic approach, according to which the focus should be directed on developing means to mitigate or minimize the gambling-related externalities and the unethical expressions of gambling. The third respondent, Belle Gavriel- Fried, contributed to the research probe by providing an intriguing analysis of the social, political and economic forces that drive the gambling discourse and the various positions on the subject matter. Shani addresses these rejoinders by asserting that despite of their valuable contribution, an ethical discussion on legalization of gambling cannot be truly comprehensive without the consideration of broader philosophical issues. This exclusive department is created to include findings of special significance and to identify areas of subtle research nuances through mutual debates, discourse and discussions. Elenctic method is used wherein knowledge progresses through articulation, cross-examination and rejection of spurious hypotheses. Thus, probe aims at encouraging scholars to think against the grain by unmasking the stereotype and dogmatic that has taken the mould of research conservatism. Contact the Editor-in-chief for more details.
  2. 2. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 454 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 Introduction Despite considerable popularity in many nations and prominent tourism destinations, casino gambling remains a contentious issue. Ethical and political debates engulf virtually every attempt to legalize or expand casino gambling. As noted by Eadington (2001), ‘concerns about the morality of gambling, its effects on political corruption and criminal activity, and the spectre of pathological gambling and the damage it creates in its wake, have all been by-products of the public discussions that have surrounded the casino question’ (p. 140). Ethical positions concerning the legalization of casino gambling tend to cross the traditional political divide, whereby both supporters and opponents of legalization can be found throughout the political spectrum (Wolfe 2007). Nevertheless, the ethical debate on casino gambling has received relatively limited consideration in the tourism and hospitality literature. Most relevant research focuses on impact studies and residents’ attitudes toward casino gambling, while neglecting broader philosophical questions regarding the morality of gambling. The numerous empirical investigations on the negative and positive effects of gambling, as well as on the perspective of the local communities, have unquestionably generated valuable information, yet – as will be exemplified in this research probe – they cannot be a substitute for a thorough ethical The Ethics of Gambling: Are We Asking the Right Questions? Amir Shani is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Ben- Gurion University of the Negev, Eilat Campus, P.O.B. 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel. e-mail: query. Understanding the ethical meaning of gambling involves more than matters of fact – in the words of Scriven (1995) – such investigation involves ‘difficult philosophical questions about where to draw the line between tolerable and intolerable’, as well as about civil liberties, individual rights, and the state’s appropriate exercise of power. The current research probe commences with an overview of studies about the effects of casino gambling development, particularly economic and social impacts, followed by an assessment of the research on local residents’ attitudes towards casino gambling. After demonstrating the shortcomings of the aforementioned studies, the study presents a comprehensive ethical investigation examining fundamental moral questions about gambling. The paper ends with a presentation of the main conclusions that can be derived from the research probe, including suggestions for further ethical investigation. The Role and Impacts of Casino Gambling Economic impacts It is hard to overestimate the role of gambling in the international tourism industry. The American Gaming Association (2012), for example, estimates that in 2010, the 566 commercial casinos that can be found in 22 states generated US$ 49.5 billion in consumer spending and approximately 400,000 direct jobs. Celebrated international casino centers such as Las Vegas, Monte
  3. 3. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 455 Carlo, Sun City and Macao have long relied on tourists as the main source of business, while ‘tourist casinos’, in which most customers are travellers, can be also found in destinations such as the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, as well as Windsor and Niagara Falls in Canada (Eadington 2001). In light of these dazzling figures, it is no wonder that numerous destinations seek to jump on the bandwagon and establish a legal casino gambling industry. As noted by Moufakkir (2005), the idea of utilizing casino gambling as a catalyst for tourism development has been traditionally promoted on the premise that by attracting more tourists, casino gambling will provide new tax revenues and increase local employment while keeping local gambling money at home. Legalizing casino gambling is also promoted for the purpose of eliminating or significantly reducing the gambling black market, thus preventing ‘deadweight losses’; i.e., illegal gambling that does not contribute to productivity (Gillespie 2009). Yet, launching or expanding gambling opportunities does not guarantee dramatic increases in tax revenues or financial gains for local businesses. Dadayan et al. (2008) alerted that although many states heavily rely on gambling revenues to fund educational, health, welfare and other social programmes, revenue growth from gambling activities has slowed in recent years due to broader economic conditions as well as a result of growing concerns over the social costs of gambling which will be discussed next. It should also be noted that casino gambling might have an adverse effect on other types of recreation and entertainment providers, due to changes in consumption patterns (Israeli and Mehrez 2000). The latter phenomenon is also known as the ‘displacement effect’, in which the demand in other sectors of the local economy declined following the introduction of casino gambling. Consequently, ‘gambling is likely to have a distributive rather than an expansionary effect on the local economy’ (Felsenstein and Freeman 1998: 155). Social impacts Despite the enthusiastic support on behalf of government officials and tourism industry representatives for the legalization of commercial gambling, the initiative to establish (or expand) casino gambling in a given destination is often controversial. As described by Bernhard et al. (2010), earlier anti-gambling positions tend to focus on the alleged immorality of the gambling activity itself, portraying gambling as a sin against God, family, andor society as a whole. Modern arguments against gambling, on the other hand, depict the activity as a sickness rather than a sin, thus the lion’s share of the criticism is directed at the gambling industry, which is condemned for supposedly taking advantage of the weakness (or illness) of gamblers. The harsh opposition to casino gambling often involves gloomy prophecies regarding the calamitous social consequences that supposedly follow the legalization or expansion of gambling activities, such as increase in problem or pathological gambling, family-related crimes and disruptions, domestic violence, higher neighborhood and property crime, increased prostitution, and excess alcohol consumption (Pizam and Pokela 1985; Wan et al. 2011). The suspected harmful social impacts of gambling development versus the economic vision of job creation and tax revenue boosts have led to extensive research examining the evidence regarding the positive and negative effects of casinos. These impact studies often
  4. 4. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 456 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 reveal mixed and contradictory findings that seem to at the least undermine the definite assumptions frequently raised regarding the allegedly horrendous social consequences of gambling. For example, Nichols et al. (2004) investigated the impact casino gambling legalization had on suicide and divorce rate in eight US communities, and concluded that there was ‘no widespread, statistically increases in either suicide or divorce’ (p. 402). Regarding the prevalence of gambling addiction, Shaffer and Martin (2011) found that during the last 35 years the incidence of pathological gambling in the US remains relatively stable, ‘despite an unprecedented increase in opportunities and access to gambling’ (p. 486). The Harvard researchers added that gambling addiction typically constitutes a symptom of an individual’s underlying disorder, and thus it is incorrect to view it as a contagious social malady (Chapman 2011). Furthermore, according to various estimations the assumed effect of casinos on crime is generally overstated and based on flawed measures. As noted by Walker (2010), despite of certain increase in crime rates following introduction of casino gambling, ‘when tourism is accounted for in the model, the crime effect of casinos is diminished or it disappears entirely’ (p. 512). In other words, crime increase is generated by the presence of more tourists, and not because of casino gambling per se. Indeed, a study by Moufakkir (2005), focusing on the impacts of casinos opening in the city of Detroit, also concluded that ‘there is no significant or alarming indication that crime increased after the casinos opened’ (p.22). Moreover, notwithstanding the popular myth, the association of gambling with organized crime has gradually diminished in the past few decades, as a result of effective regulation of legal gambling facilities as well as modern technologies that improve the monitoring of money flow within casinos (Eadington 2001). To sum, the abovementioned findings do not imply that casino development does not generate any negative social consequences under any circumstances, but rather illustrate that the common estimations tend to exaggerate the negative impacts following the introduction or expansion of casino gambling opportunities. As argued by Eadington (2001), ‘such claims have been based on questionable research methods, unverifiable and untraceable numbers, selective data interpretation, incorrect concepts, or just shoddy analysis’ (p. 136). Legalizing casino gambling might not serve as a panacea for destinations seeking to rejuvenate their declining local economy, but overall research fails to reinforce the strong concerns raised regarding serious social side effects. Residents’ Attitudes toward Casino Gambling Another prominent line of gambling research refers to local residents’ attitudes and perceived impacts about casino gambling development. Nowadays, gambling is considered a legitimate form of entertainment in many Western countries including most sections of the US. Nonetheless, numerous studies focused on the perceptions of those who reside in proximity to the proposedexisting casino facilities regarding the positive and negative effects of the latter on the destination on the local community as well as on their personal quality-of-life (e.g., Back and Lee 2005; Lee and Back 2003; Perdue et al. 1999; Pizam and Pokela 1985; Wan 2012). This line of study has gained popularity in tourism research out of the assumption that the goodwill and cooperation of the locals are essential
  5. 5. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 457 prerequisites for successful casino development (Chhabra 2009). As noted by Chhabra and Gursoy (2007), ‘local residents are likely to support development as long as the perceived benefits exceed the perceived costs’ (p. 35), thus indentifying locals’ areas of support and concerns is vital for the purpose of influencing their perceptions and attitudes. Furthermore, it is argued by many that since local residents are expected to experience the greatest impact from such development, considering their views throughout the planning and development process is fundamental from an ethical standpoint (Shani and Pizam 2012). While undoubtedly providing useful information that should be taken into consideration in casino planning and development, the reliance on residents’ attitudes in examining the positive and negative impacts of casino gambling fails to provide a comprehensive and accurate depiction of reality (Chhabra 2009). Many residents oppose or support the establishment or expansion of casino gambling in their communities based on popular myths rather than on factual evidence (see previous sections on economic and social impacts of casino gambling). For example, Moufakkir (2005) noted that referenda on casino gambling development have failed in many US jurisdictions due to the – often incorrectly perceived – negative effects of casinos. More fundamentally, the over-concentration on residents’ attitudes might lead to an impression that their level of support should serve as a ‘litmus test’ regarding gambling policy decisions at the destination. While the locals’ perceptions are indisputably important and can aid the decision-making process, other considerations may be paramount in a sound ethical analysis. Unfortunately, much of the research on tourism and gambling tend to take this rather narrow ethical angle limited to residents’ attitudes, rather than embracing a broader discourse that can provide a comprehensive inquiry into the ethics of gambling. An Ethical Assessment of Casino Gambling The ethical debate that is recurrently ignited whenever gambling-related policies are discussed involves a conflict between two contrasting ideologies: the Ethics of Sacrifice, which holds that the ultimate objective of public policy is to promote and maintain the ‘societal good’ or the ‘general welfare’, versus the Ethics of Tolerance, which advocates the supremacy of the ‘rights of the individual’ over any other collective interests (McGowan 1997). Those who promote the Ethics of Sacrifice tend to hold a strict anti-gambling position. According to this teleological philosophy, in order to achieve a more harmonious society the right of a person to gamble has to be ‘sacrificed’, since gambling is supposedly associated with potential unwelcomed personal and social consequences. On the other hand, those who endorse the Ethics of Tolerance are likely to accept the right of the individual to gamble (as long as she does not interfere with the rights of others), despite potentially adverse effects for himher or for society as a whole (see McGowan and Brown 1994). In assessing the strengths of each ideological stance, it is argued here that the burden of proof is on the opponents of casino gambling. As noted by Scriven (1995), ‘if something widely enjoyable or otherwise beneficial is to be forbidden, a substantial case must be made for prohibition’. As was demonstrated earlier, factual evidence indicates that many of the perceptions regarding the costs of casino gambling are
  6. 6. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 458 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 exaggerated, inaccurate or simply incorrect. Nevertheless, an ethical examination of casino gambling cannot be simply resolved with a functional cost-benefit analysis, despite the centrality of such an investigation in casino studies. While Israeli and Mehrez (2000) stated that ‘the decision of whether to allow legal gaming or not… should be based on a detailed cost benefit analysis in which the tangible and intangible costs and benefits are weighed to determine if the initiative has a positive value’ (p. 284), such analysis is often imprecise and relies on speculative data (especially regarding the intangible outcomes of casino gambling). In addition to the limited practicality of this utilitarian approach (e.g., aggregating and summing both qualitative and quantitative forms of costs and benefits), it can also conflict with certain values that are usually cherished in free societies like justice, liberty, and individualism. The following subsections present some of the prominent ethical arguments against legalization of casino gambling, while evaluating their strengths and accuracy. Gambling and Addiction Although legalizing or expanding gambling opportunities are not likely to lead to a significant increase in pathological gambling (Chapman 2011; Shaffer and Martin 2011), gambling is unquestionably addictive to some people to the point that their personal and professional lives and their families are significantly harmed. See, for example, the following portrayal of gambling addiction: ‘casual, recreational gambling can become a compulsive and pathological activity. Gambling addicts live a chaotic life, using an average of 25 credit cards by the time they declare bankruptcy. Their families are disrupted, with many members developing stress-related health problems. The social problems that accompany compulsive gambling include loss of time and productivity at the workplace, theft and embezzlement’ (Kian 2009: 118). Therefore, a typical anti-gambling standpoint maintains that the activity should be outlawed since it is in the best interest of both the individual and society as a whole. Nevertheless, this argument possesses several weaknesses; the most prominent one was termed by Sullum (2007) as The Addict’s Veto fallacy. According to this problematic logic, any activity that can be lead to harmful compulsion should be banned. However, since the vast majority of adults are able to enjoy gambling responsibly without causing any harm to themselves or to anybody else, this anti-gambling position demands an ‘addict’s veto’ over gambling: because some people may develop destructive gambling addiction – no one should be allowed to gamble (Sullum 2007). Since numerous human activities are associated with potential risky compulsions (e.g., sex, shopping, exercise, eating), this line of logic seriously diminishes individual’s rights and freedom. Consequently, the vast majority of gamblers, for whom gambling is a safe and enjoyable recreational activity, become the victims of a small minority who cannot control their gambling compulsions (Scriven 1995). The argument that we should ban gambling since it might lead some people to self-destruction also raises the ethical issue of paternalism, or, in the words of Scriven (1995), ‘the issue of whether people have the right to go to hell in their own way’ (p. 69). After all, allowing the government to police its citizens’ (supposedly) bad habits, like casino gambling, might lead to a ‘slippery slope’ toward seriously undermining other individual liberties. If gambling should be
  7. 7. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 459 outlawed because it might wreck some people’s lives, then so should activities such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, having unsafe sex, downhill ski racing, investing in the stock market, taking out shaky mortgages or loans, or committing adultery. As noted by Balko (2010), ‘if liberty means anything at all, it means the freedom to make our own choices about our lives, our money, our habits and how we spend our leisure time, even if they happen to be choices other people would not make for themselves’ (para. 8). Gambling, Work Ethic and Greed Another popular anti-gambling position concerns the alleged threat it poses to the value of the work ethic, as well as to the erosion of the conceptions of reward and merit (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001). As noted by Israeli and Mehrez (2000), many legalization opponents point out ‘that gambling contradicts well-accepted societal values of the Puritan work ethic, which maintains that a person should enjoy the good only by means of his own efforts and not through the intervention of chance or providence’ (p. 284). For example, two decades ago the Massachusetts Councils of Churches (1993) issued a petition to the local government urging it not to allow the expansion of the gambling industry in the state since ‘government should not be enticing its citizens to gamble, offering the illusion of easy money, or encouraging greed. This fosters a ‘something for nothing’ attitude which is in contrast to the dignity of work” (p. 2). The idea that legal gambling enervates the value of hard work and human achievement in society has received no serious empirical reinforcement. Certainly there are anecdotes on irresponsible gamblers who dream of ‘hitting the jackpot’ in lieu of accomplishing success through work and education, but such anecdotes are not a substitute for empirical evidence, which is lacking. As observed by Scriven (1995) in Las Vegas, ‘since there are very large numbers of hard working people in the casinos and the city, the discouragement of work and the encouragement of greed are not exactly universal’ (p. 67). In any case, even if there is an association between gambling and a lower commitment to work, gambling is hardly different from other social acceptable means in which people may receive ‘something for nothing’, such as inheritance and gifts. The Unproductive Nature of Gambling Much resistance to gambling legalization derives from the argument that the gambling industry does not produce added-value products and reinvestment in the local economy. In addition, establishing casinos is likely to divert consumer money from ‘legitimate’ goods and services to ‘unproductive’ gambling-related activities (Lugar 1998). This claim, at least to a certain degree, may be factually correct. As was mentioned earlier in the paper, ‘money lost at the blackjack table can’t be spent on other types of recreation and entertainment’ (Chapman 2011: para 5). The optimistic estimations often made regarding tax revenues following the expansion of gambling opportunities also tend to be overstated. Having said that, banning activity due to its insignificant contribution to cost- effective measures such as gross domestic product or tax revenues sets a troublesome ethical principle. Naturally, many leisure activities add nothing to the local economy yet they are not condemned. In this regard,
  8. 8. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 460 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank (2009) contended that ‘the notion that individual choices and personal freedom have to be justified on the grounds that they contribute to the gross domestic product is of course a serious threat to individual liberty’ (para 5). The fact that the establishment of casinos financially threatens other local businesses (Felsenstein and Freeman 1998) constitutes poor ethical reasoning as opposition to gambling legalization. Many tourism and hospitality companies struggle over tourist spending in a business environment where competition is fierce, yet this is hardly a satisfactory justification to prevent new entrants from trying their luck in such a competitive market. For example, the establishment of all-inclusive resorts in many tourism destinations drove many local restaurants and entertainment venues out of business, yet usually no serious suggestions have been made to outlaw all-inclusive resorts in societies that are characterized by a free market. Gambling and Crime As mentioned earlier in this paper, the association between legal casino gambling and crime (including organized crime) is not well supported. Nonetheless, a traditional anti-gambling argument still maintains that casinos should be banned since they may be used as a means to circumvent the law, particularly for money laundering purposes. There is a possibility, of course, that despite heavy regulation, in some cases, legal casinos are or will be used to cover criminal activities, but, as mentioned by Scriven (1995), this argument ‘is worthless since it draws no contrast with the alternatives’ (p. 68). Organized crime syndicates have traditionally used businesses such as dry- cleaning stores and waste management operations, yet the authorities’ logical response has been to implement regulation measures to strengthen the law enforcement in these industries rather than utterly banning them. In any case, gambling prohibition seems to only make things worse, as it creates further sources of funding for criminal organizations who are the main beneficiaries from driving gambling activities underground. Gambling prohibition and the consequent illegal casinos have other clear adverse effects concerning the rule of law. As suggested by Miron (2010), while crimes such as robbery or assault generate a victim who may file a complaint, in the black market neither the gambler nor the illegal casinos have an interest in alerting the authorities since both parties broke the law. Additionally, since the participants in the illegal gambling industry cannot resolve disputes using legitimate means like the legal system, they often turn to violence. It should also be taken into consideration that gambling prohibition might result in disrespect for the law since prohibiting gambling does not wipe it out but simply pushes it underground, and ‘everyone learns that laws are for suckers’ (Miron 2010: 64). Exposure to Undesirable Influences The anti-gambling position often refers to gamblers’ exposure to other acts of (supposedly) moral corruption, such as alcohol intoxication and prostitution. In many gambling destinations, casinos are accused of actively encouraging their patrons’ alcohol consumption, through the provision of free alcoholic beverages (Stitt et al. 2003). Another ‘vice’ that casinos are customarily associated with is prostitution, although in many cases the prostitution rate
  9. 9. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 461 was actually decreased or remained identical following the legalization of casinos (Giacopassi et al. 2001). A particular concern that is often raised is that minors will be more likely to be exposed to gambling and other allegedly immoral behaviours once casinos are out in the open. However, these arguments, despite partial accuracy, are ethically shaky and set impossible standards. Regarding the pervasive availability of alcohol, Scriven (1995) replied that ‘it is also true in every licensed restaurant in the country – and most social events – the casinos are hardly distinctive for this’ (p. 67). Many restaurants and pubs may also encourage alcohol consumption by embracing ‘happy hours’, i.e., a period of time in which alcoholic beverages are offered in discount. The risk for minors can be met by enforcing a strict age limit in casinos, similarly to the legal drinking age. In any case, as was noted by US Congressman Barney Frank (2009), ‘if we were to ban every activity that is suitable only for adults because of the possibility that some underage people might access these activities, we would have substantially diminished our freedom as adults’ (para 6). Conclusions The abundance of gambling impact studies and research on residents’ attitudes toward casino development in tourism and hospitality literature have yielded useful information, which is nevertheless insufficient in examining the ethical nature of gambling. Casino impact studies typically rely on cost-benefit analyses, whereas the effects of casino gambling are difficult to quantify and aggregate. Consequently, such an approach does not allow for the making of definite conclusions regarding the accurate impacts of casino gambling, but rather merely serves as a starting point for an ethical debate. Overall, the review of the relevant literature reveals mixed results yet a conclusion can be made that the assumed destructive consequences of the legalization or expanding of casino gambling are considerably inflated. On the other hand, viewing casino gambling as a panacea for the difficult financial crises that many destinations face also seems to be overly optimistic. The studies on residents’ attitudes toward casino gambling also provide valuable information for both scholars and policy makers, yet the locals’ perspectives cannot be the sole – or even the main – indicator of the ethicality of gambling. Local residents often base their standpoints on unreliable sources of information or on ‘moral panic’, rather on factual data. In addition, allowing local residents the ‘veto vote’ about which types of businesses should be legalized in their communities might lead to a ‘tyranny of the majority’, in which individual rights are oppressed by a majority rule. As a result, a comprehensive ethical inquiry requires the considerations of broader philosophical issues, some of which were discussed in this research probe. From the current analysis it can be concluded that the anti-gambling position, which opposes the legalization of casinos and often other gambling-related activities, cannot be ethically justified. If accepted, the ethical principles that are derived from the anti-gambling arguments – and can be applied to other ‘vices’ as well – will do little to reduce the negative consequences of these activities, and moreover will substantially infringe fundamental individual rights and civil liberties, and allow for the use of excessive authority of society over the
  10. 10. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 462 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 individual. This is not to say that certain reasonable restrictions cannot be imposed on the legal gambling industry to reduce its associated risks. Age restrictions, limits on bet and loss sizes, a no-credit policy, and limits on the number of times a person can visit a casino in a month are examples of control measures that were adopted in casinos around the world and might be considered moderate compromises (Kian 2009; Scriven 1995), although their effectiveness and ethical justification should receive further attention in casino studies. It is hoped that this research probe will incite further attempts to discuss and clarify the morality of casino gambling and other “vices” such as prostitution, drugs and alcohol consumption that are, in many cases, related to the tourism industry. Examining these activities from a broader philosophical perspective has far reaching implications on society and everyday life than most people usually appreciate. A fundamental question – albeit without an easy answer – that is likely to be raised in such discussions is what should be the appropriate nature and level of control society has on the individuals that comprise it. The tourism and hospitality scholarship has much potential to contribute to this crucial debate. References AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION (2012). The State of the Modern Casino Industry: Speech to the Massachusetts Gaming Association. casino-industry-speech-to-the-massachusetts – Accessed on 28 October, 2012. BACK, K. and LEE, C. (2005). Residents’ Perceptions of Casino Development in Korea: The Kangwon Land Casino Case. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal 9(2): 45–53. BALKO, R. (2010). Gambling (Part 1). – Accessed on 22 October, 2012. BERNHARD, B.J., FUTRELL, R. and HARPER, A. (2010). “Shots form the Pulpit”: An Ethnographic Content Analysis of United States Anti-Gambling Social Movement Documents. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal 14(2): 15– 32. CHAPMAN, S. (2011). The Myths about Legalized Gambling. about-legalized-gamb – Accessed on 12 October 2012. CHHABRA, D. (2009). Examining Resident Perceptions of Negative Gambling Impacts with Factual Evidence. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal 13(2): 27–43. CHHABRA, D. and GURSOY, D. (2007). Perceived Impacts of Gambling: Integration of Two Theories. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal 11(1): 27–40. COSGRAVE, J. and KLASSEN, T.R. (2001). Gambling Against the State: The State and the Legitimation of Gambling. Current Sociology 49(5): 1–15. DADAYAN, L., GIGUASHVILI, N. and WARD, R.B. (2008). From a Bonanza to a Blue Chip? Gambling Revenue to the States. New York. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. EADINGTON, W.R. (2001). The Spread of Casinos and Their Role in Tourism Development. In Pearce, D.G. and Butler, R.W. (Eds) Contemporary Issues in Tourism Development. New York. Routledge: 127–142. FELSENSTEIN, D. and FREEMAN, D. (1998). Simulating the Impacts of Gambling in a Tourist Location: Some Evidence form Israel. Journal of Travel Research 37(2): 145–155. FRANK, B. (2009). With Gambling, Personal Freedom is Always the Best Bet. articles/2009/06/01/with-gambling-personal-freedom-is-always-the-best-bet-says-barney-frank – Accessed on 10 October 2012. GIACOPASSI, D., STITT, B.G. and NICHOLS, M. (2001). Community Perception of Casino Gambling’s Effect on Crime in New Gambling Jurisdictions. The Justice Professional, 14(2-3): 151–170.
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  12. 12. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 464 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 Amir Shani initiated a brainstorming exercise on a controversial question: ‘Ethics of gambling: are we asking the right question?’ There appears to be no single answer that can address Shani’s question perfectly. Instead of providing a clear-cut answer to this debatable question, this chapter tends to focus the discussions on two related issues. The first issue is whether gambling is ethical or not. Additionally, if gambling is ethical, how can stakeholders of gambling prevent gambling deviating from its ethical path and push it to the ethical peak. In contrast, if gambling is unethical, how can stakeholders reduce its unethical extent? Through a critical discussion on these two issues, we expect all people who are directly or indirectly involved in gambling, including gamblers, gambling industry operators (i.e., casinos), health service and welfare providers, and government (Blaszczynski et al. 2004), can gain a clearer understanding on their obligations in the pursuit of a healthy and sustainable gambling (or gaming) industry. Is Gambling Ethical? Gambling is defined as ‘any activity that involved an element of risk where money is wagered and could be won or lost’ (Ellenbogen et al. 2007: 136). Its linkages to intoxication, drug abuse, smoking, and Beyond Ethical Assessment of Gambling Lawrence Hoc Nang Fong is at Faculty of Business Administration, University of Macau, E22- 3086, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau SAR, China. e-mail: Daniel Leung is Daniel Leung is at Department of Tourism and Service Management, MODUL University Vienna, Vienna, Austria.e-mail: Rob Law is at School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic Univer- sity, 17 Science Museum Road, TST East, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR, China Email: prostitution linger in most people’s minds. These behaviours have generally been classified as ‘bad habits’ (Burnham 1993). Worse still, casino is even considered as a dirty business (Lai et al. 2013). As such, investing in the stock/share of casino companies becomes sinful (Hong and Kacperczyk 2009). The sinful image of gambling is particularly salient from religious followers’ perspective. For instance, Islam considers gambling a devil’s vocation (Israeli and Mehrez 2000). Gamblers are even analogized as thieves, grounding in the rationale that both gamblers and thieves share common characteristics including ‘greedy, selfish, and prone to appropriate items of value without concern for others’ (Binde 2005: 451). These negative labels shape the social norm of gambling that it is a guilty activity (Loo et al. 2008). Therefore, social desirability is always a concern in researching people’s attitude toward gambling (Kassinove et al. 1998) and intention to gamble (Lee 2013). This, in turn, renders people’s intentional concealing of their gambling behaviour (Loo et al. 2008). The social desirability effect, perhaps, even extends to researchers. Shani noted in his probe that negative impacts might have been amplified by the researchers who investigated local residents’ attitude toward casino gaming. This argument, to a certain
  13. 13. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 465 extent, reflects that researchers fail to depart from the social norm. Following this rationale, it seems more generally acceptable to consider gambling unethical. Despite the common thought of considering gambling as an unethical activity, there are arguments against the unethical nature of gambling. From the anthropological point of view, gambling can fulfill the principle of egalitarian (Binde 2005). Assuming every gambler has the same probability to win the game in the long run, losers have the right to win back what they had lost in the gambling session and eventually gamblers’ wealth can be balanced. This view, perhaps, is too optimistic as it assumes that gamblers would persist in gambling until their wealth is equally distributed. More importantly, it is well understood among the school of mathematics that gambling industry operators (i.e., casinos) have advantage over their winning probability. Hence, gamblers’ wealth can never be balanced. It is also inconceivable for casinos to share their wealth with the gamblers. In the discussion on ethical value of gambling, Binde (2005) noted that an individual has the right and freedom to gamble in order to enjoy the fun and excitement upon the gambling experience. This argument is applicable to certain gamblers who are primarily motivated by the hedonic value of gambling. However, previous empirical studies report that gamblers are mainly motivated by the chance of winning money (Lee et al. 2006; Neighbors et al. 2002). Notwithstanding a gambler plays for hedonic reason, monetary appeal still plays a major role in between (Lee et al. 2007). More importantly, gamblers who are motivated by monetary gain are more likely to be problem gamblers (Nower and Blaszczynski 2010). Instead of enjoying the freedom to gamble, problem gamblers are forced to do so as their cognitive control over gambling is impaired (Blaszczynski and Nower 2002). It is thus questionable if people want to gain hedonic value from an activity, whether gambling is the only option available to them. The answer is ostensibly ‘no’. Based on these observations, there appears to be no room to consider if gambling is ethical. If gambling is considered to be unethical, should gambling business be legally permitted? Perhaps it is too late to ask this question witnessing the widespread of gambling business all over the world. Even though gambling has never been legally permitted, does it mean that gambling activity would never emerge? The answer is certainly ‘no’. Legalization of gambling happens when the gambling activities has already existed in the society. In this sense, the ethical assessment of gambling (i.e., whether gambling is ethical or not) may not be a major concern given the fact that availability of gambling products is irrevocable. This contention resonates with Israeli and Mehrez’s (2000: 284) assertion that: ‘ethical arguments do not inhibit the popular demand for gaming’. Moreover, the economic significance of casino gambling is well evidenced, in particular on its role as a catalyst of tourism development in many destinations (Eadington 1999; Israeli and Mehrez 2000). For instance, Las Vegas is the symbolic icon in this regard as this gambling capital of the world was developed from an isolated desert in the past. A more recent example is Macau in China, which is currently the most lucrative casino gambling market in the world. Its casino industry renders a number of economic benefits for the local community including improvement
  14. 14. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 466 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 of employment condition, higher levels of private and public investments, more tax revenues, and more business transactions (Fong et al. 2011). Still, some people may blame that the supportive attitude toward casino gambling business is unethical. However, if a person believes that the casino industry can help improve the economy and residents’ well-being but decides to set a veto on it, such a decision may not be ethical. At present, gambling is already a legal activity in many jurisdictions. Hence, debating on whether gambling is ethical or not may not add any meaningful value. If it is tenable to argue that gambling is unethical, stakeholders’ attention should fall into minimizing the unethical extent of gambling. This contention concurs with the advocacies of public health researchers that preventing problem gambling incidence and reducing gambling-related harm are of the utmost importance (Blaszczynski et al. 2004). Probably, the advocators also realize the impossibility of removing all gambling activities. To achieve these advocacies, or in other words to reduce the unethical extent, several agenda items are worthwhile for stakeholders’ contemplation. How to Reduce the Unethical Extent of Gambling? To reduce the unethical extent of gambling, legislation is perhaps topping the agenda list. Without a structural and comprehensive legal framework, dirty business would become more inferior. Likewise, unethical business would become irretrievable in the extreme if there is no way to reduce the unethical extent. Given its long history of legalized casino gambling, Las Vegas has expended large efforts to purify people’s negative impression on gambling. Undeniably, emerging gambling destinations also need to strengthen their regulation works on their casino industries if they do not want their reputations become notorious. As an example, the Singaporean Government, upon its process of deregulating the casinoindustry, did a lot of legislation works to address potential negative social impacts caused by the casino industry (Henderson 2006). Macau also underwent legislative reformation on the gambling business after its casino industry was liberalized in 2002. Under the pressure from the casino concessionaire originated from the United States, the Macau Government enacted a law to regulate the high-roller market which is vulnerable to criminal activities (Eadington and Siu 2007). However, the government was criticized to leave some leeway in introducing the regulatory change, which may threaten the casino gambling revenue and thereafter the gambling tax revenue (Eadington and Siu 2007). These anecdotal evidences shed lights on the extent to which different regulators are concerned about the ethics of gambling. Nevertheless, legislation is a key milestone in the pursuance of reducing the unethical extent of gambling. Also, it is important to note that a comprehensive legal framework is just an inception. Government should ensure that the law is effectively enforced. Otherwise, legislation work is of no ethical value. Another worth-to-consider strategy on reducing the unethical extent of gambling is to get stakeholders’ commitment to responsible gambling. Responsible gambling refers to the ‘policies and practices designed to prevent and reduce potential harms associated with gambling’ (Blaszczynski et al. 2004: 308). The imprint of responsible gambling can be found in many developed countries like Canada, the United States, and Australia. However, it is still at an early stage
  15. 15. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 467 in certain developing destinations like Macau. Although this notion was introduced to the Macau community several years ago, limited pragmatic practices on responsible gambling have been pursued there. Paradoxically, half of the casino operators in Macau also operate casino business in the United States where responsible gambling has been practicing since mid-1990s (Hing 2012). Procrastination of the implementation of responsible gambling appears unreasonable. While stakeholders’ commitment has been contended the successful linchpin of responsible gambling programme (Blaszczynski et al. 2004), procrastination of responsible gambling programme in Macau can be due to the lack of stakeholders’ commitment. This is not surprising because of the conflict between responsible gambling and key stakeholders’ vested interest. Casinos in Macau are operated by publicly listed companies. Profit maximization is undeniably the most important mission of the management. However, responsible gambling aims to reduce excessive gambling incidences which may threaten the shareholders’ interest. Yet, Macau’s economy is characterized with heavy dependence on the casino industry (So et al. 2012). More importantly, a vast majority of gamblers in the jurisdiction are tourists. Local residents’ participation in gambling is minimal (Vong 2004). It is unlikely for the government to receive community support on the promotion of responsible gambling. Definitely, social welfare organizations and scholars would voice out the importance of responsible gambling. However, their influence would be very limited. Without acquiring the commitment from all stakeholders, the progress of any responsible gambling project would solely remain at the superficial level. Recently, a group of international gambling scholars from North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, and Africa proposed a set of responsible gambling requirements that can be applied universally (Blaszczynski et al. 2011). The requirements provide a useful guideline on how the unethical extent of gambling can be reduced. These scholars suggested that a ‘safe’ gambling product or environment should be provided, supplemented by legislation work. Specific measures include educating the general population about the nature of gambling and winning probability, training casino staff to identify and respond to gamblers who are at the risk of problem gambling, informing the public about the availability of treatment programmes, refraining marketing work to minors, alerting gamblers about the possible negative consequences of excessive gambling, restricting underage gambling, restricting sale of alcohol to gamblers, offering self- exclusion options to gamblers, mandating clear display of responsible gambling messages on advertisements and marketing materials, and changing gambling facilities and environment that might lead to problem gambling. These measures are apparently the responsibilities of government and casino operators. On the other hand, gamblers should play responsibly. They should maintain their gambling behaviour at a ‘safe’ level and avoid causing interference to others. While the impact of gambling on a local community has been well documented in the literature (Lee and Back 2003; Pizam and Pokela 1985; Zhou et al. 2014), little research concerned the negative social impact on tourists or the export of social costs to other countries. This issue is particularly salient in the gambling destinations where most gambling revenues are contributed by tourists. Macau is a typical case as its tourists,
  16. 16. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 468 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 especially those from Mainland China, are the major contributor to the gaming revenue (Fong et al. 2011). Stories about Mainland Chinese officials gambling with the funds derived from embezzlement are not scant (Eadington and Siu 2007). More importantly, while gambling is generally considered as a recreational activity in many Western countries, some Chinese considers gambling as a means to earn easy money, and they are more willing to take risk in betting than their Western counterparts (Chien and Hsu 2006). Coherent with this phenomenon, the prevalence of problem gambling among Chinese has been found to be more severe than other people (Blaszczynski et al. 2011). Therefore, from an ethical perspective, it is of great importance for the indigenous stakeholders to confront the issue about the export of social costs. In this regard, it is imperative for the government and casino operators to implement the aforementioned minimum requirements of responsible gambling. Local residents, as a beneficiary of casino development in the destination, can also play a part by promoting the notion of responsible gambling to tourists. If the export of social costs reaches a point which is intolerable from foreign governments’ perspective, a possible consequence would be their control of outbound tourists to the gambling destination. Then, the sustainable development of the gambling destination would be threatened. While our foregoing discussions on reducing the unethical extent of gambling mainly fall into the aspect of preventing and reducing gambling-related harm, there is another aspect – ethical transformation (i.e., transforming the unethical gambling business to ethical contributions to the society) – worth noticing. Nowadays, hospitality corporations’ participations in charity activities by means of monetary donation and employee volunteerism are very common (Holcomb et al. 2007). Being considered as a business that produces negative impacts, casinos are naturally assumed to participate in charity activities. However, this may not contribute much to reduction of the unethical extent of gambling if their contributions fall into the areas which are not directly related to the negative consequences of gambling. Thus, casino operators should put more efforts on ethical work like setting up a responsible gambling team under the supervision of top management, and funding help-line centers, treatment centers, and scientific research on reducing gambling- related harm. Government, the authority that permits legal gambling and a major beneficiary under the casino development (through gaming tax), is also obligated to share a part of the casino operators’ ethical contributions. Conclusions In this response to lead probe, we do not aim to assert gambling is ethical or not as general population should have a judgment on this issue. Perhaps, due to the values inherited from the past, general population tends to consider gambling as an unethical activity. There are, certainly, opponents holding a contrasting opinion on ethics of gambling. No matter how, and whether gambling is ethical or not may not be a major focus. We should extend our eyesight beyond this issue, given the fact that availability of gambling is almost irrevocable. Instead, our attention should gear toward a more pragmatic issue – how the unethical extent of gambling can be reduced, or if gambling is considered as ethical, how to maintain it on the ethical track. Perhaps, this is also a solution, though not a perfect one, to address
  17. 17. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 469 the ideological conflict between Ethics of Sacrifice and Ethics of Tolerance, which was articulated by Shani in his probe. On the one hand, by permitting gambling activities, people’s right to gamble as advocated by the Ethics of Tolerance is respected. On the other hand, the concern of Ethics of Sacrifice on the negative consequences can be accommodated by directing resources toward reduction of gambling-related harm (i.e., reduction of unethical extent). To reduce the unethical extent of gambling, two approaches can be considered. First, a comprehensive legislative framework should be established and effective enforcement should be pursued to rule out the activities worsening the unethical view on gambling. Second, all stakeholders of gambling should commit to the implementation of responsible gambling by complying with the minimum requirements as specified in Blaszczynski et al. (2011). Also, casino operators and government should make ethical use of the revenues generated from the gambling business to support the clinical and scholarly works on reducing gambling-related harm. In his conclusion, Shani maintained that researchers who are keen on studying ethics of gambling should not devote their entire focus on residents’ attitudes toward casino development. This argument echoes with our concern on the negative impact toward tourists. Researchers, including those from tourism and hospitality, should devote more research efforts on investigating the social impact of gambling on tourists. This is imperative to maintain the sustainability of gambling destinations. To answer the question raised by Shani: ‘Ethics of gambling: Are we asking the right question?’, our answer is ‘no’ if the focus merely falls into whether gambling is ethical or not, but ‘yes’ if the focus is extended to reduction of the unethical extent of gambling. References BINDE, P. (2005). Gambling, Exchange Systems, and Moralities. Journal of Gambling Studies 21(4): 445–479. BLASZCZYNSKI, A., COLLINS, P., FONG, D., LADOUCEUR, R., NOWER, L., SHAFFER, H. J., TAVARES, H. and VENISSE, J.-L. (2011). Responsible Gambling: General Principles and Minimal Requirements. Journal of Gambling Studies 27(4): 565–573. BLASZCZYNSKI, A., LADOUCEUR, R. and SHAFFER, H. J. (2004). A Science-based Framework for Responsible Gambling: The Reno Model. Journal of Gambling Studies 20(3): 307–317. BLASZCZYNSKI, A. and NOWER, L. (2002). A Pathways Model of Problem and Pathological Gambling. Addiction 97(5): 487–499. BURNHAM, J. C. (1993). Bad Habits: Drinking, Smoking, Taking Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Misbehavior, and Swearing in American History. New York. New York University Press. CHIEN, G. C. L. and HSU, C. H. C. (2006). Gambling and Chinese Culture. In Hsu, C. H. C. (Ed) Casino Industry in Asia Pacific: Development, Operation, and Impact. New York. Haworth Hospitality Press: 201–224. EADINGTON, W. R. (1999). The Spread of Casinos and their Role in Tourism Development. In Pearce, D. G. and Butler, R. (Eds) Contemporary Issues in Tourism Development. London. Routledge Chapman & Hall: 127–142. EADINGTON, W. R. and SIU, R. C. S. (2007). Between Law and Custom—Examining the Interaction between Legislative Change and the Evolution of Macao’s Casino Industry. International Gambling Studies 7(1): 1–28. ELLENBOGEN, S., DEREVENSKY, J. and GUPTA, R. (2007). Gender Differences among Adolescents with Gambling- related Problems. Journal of Gambling Studies 23(2): 133–143. FONG, D. K. C., FONG, H. N. and LI, S. Z. (2011). The Social Cost of Gambling in Macao: Before and After the Liberalisation of the Gaming Industry. International Gambling Studies 11(1): 43–56.
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  19. 19. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 471 Introduction Gambling behaviour in general, and casino gambling in particular, has been a controversial social issue for many years (Chambers 2011; Cosgrave 2006; Eadington 1998, 1999, 2003; Giacopassi et al. 1999; Orford 2005; Scriven 1995). Those opposed to casino gambling do so on religious-moral and social grounds, citing its risks of increased crime, possible subversion of society’s moral fabric and of the value of working for a living, and individual addiction. Its proponents stress the potential economic benefits of boosting tourism and economic development – particularly in economically disadvantaged areas – the creation of jobs, and the opportunity for responsible government oversight that minimizes the potential harms of gambling and protects the public from illegal gambling operations run by organized crime (Reuter 1983). Shani’s lead probe confronts these common arguments with regard to casino gambling and examines them under an ethical-moral lens: arguments against casino gambling, which are rooted in the Ethics of Sacrifice – whereby the individual sacrifices his freedom to have readily-accessible gambling, and the possible profits thereof, for the sake of harmony and order in the society at large – are pitted against proponents’ arguments, based on the Ethics of Tolerance, namely that the individual should always be The Ethics of Gambling: Are We Asking the Right Questions or should these Questions be Explored in a Wider Context Belle Gavriel-Fried is Lecturer at the Bob Shapell School of Social Work, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. e-mail: given complete freedom, as long as it does not harm another person (McGowan 2001). By placing the burden of proof on the opponents of gambling, Shani argues that opposition to casino gambling is not grounded in hard fact, that research findings are inconsistent, and that relying on public attitudes is problematic because the general public tends to form its views from myths or in ‘fits of moral panic’. Hence, in his view, these arguments have no ethical justification, and accepting them would infringe upon the freedom of the individual. With these statements, Shani joins the chorus of commonly-espoused views in Western society in the past three decades – by various political figures and officials in the gambling industry – that are based on neo-liberal arguments about individualism and freedom of the individual, to promote their political agenda and economic interests. While Shani frames his arguments for and against casino gambling in ethical terms, this paper describes the broader processes and the social and political forces that have led to changes in how gambling behaviour is perceived over the years – from the notion that it is a sin or vice, to seeing it as a sickness, to the modern-day perception of it as a leisure time activity (Campbell and Smith 2003; Rosecrance 1985; Rossol 2001) – and how the arguments for and against casinos have become increasingly irrelevant in the 21st
  20. 20. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 472 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 century. My contention is that any examination of the arguments for and against casinos independently of their social and cultural contexts and the political and economic interests of either side, can only cover part of the picture. If we examine them through a constructivist and structural lenses, to see how they are the product of institutional processes, alongside broad trends and changes in society and morality (which, in part, reflect conventional thinking of the social elites), we may gain a deeper understanding of these arguments. Moreover, we would find the question of their respective veracity or authenticity is less significant in this debate than the fact that these arguments are nearly identical to those made about gambling behaviour in general, and that changes in society’s attitudes toward gambling in general have paved the way for the establishment of casinos on a wide scale. The Changes in the Social Perceptions of Gambling Throughout the Years The process by which societies judge whether certain behaviours are risky is based not only on objective evaluations of probability and cost-benefit analysis, but is also a product of social trends and discourses that construct knowledge and disseminate it (Klinke and Renn 2002). This knowledge is promoted and supported by institutions and by individuals in positions of social power for their own benefit, who also decide who is authorized to speak on the topic and who is not, and which arguments are considered true, and which are false (Foucault 1981). While social attitudes toward some concepts and behaviours remains the same over the years, others are considered more open to debate (Schneider and Ingram 1993). Gambling behaviour is one such example, which, despite being a very ancient practice that transcends national boundaries and cultures, has notably and consistently met with much social ambivalence and tension. A review of the literature on this topic in Western society – especially in the U.S. and Canada – reveals three main and successive social perceptions of gambling: from a sin or a vice, to sickness, and finally to the commonly held view of it today as a leisure pastime (Campbell and Smith 2003; Rosecrance 1985; Rossol 2001). Unlike the former two, which view gambling as something essentially negative, the latter emphasizes its aspects of play, fun, and leisure time of an individual’s free choosing. Each of these social perceptions involves arguments for and against gambling that reflect the social and moral norms of their respective periods. The changes that have taken place over the years in these perceptions are the result of politically- and economically-motivated changes in values and social processes that have paved the way to the social legitimacy of casino gambling and the establishment of a flourishing and profitable gambling industry in the 21st century. The moralistic attitude toward gambling that prevailed in the 18th and 19th centuries and earlier was promulgated by religious Puritan groups and institutions who regarded gambling as sinful, criminal and immoral, and contrary to values such as hard work, frugality and family integrity (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001; Dombrick 1996; Levy 2010; Preston et al. 1998). The common assumption was that gamblers who lost their money would inevitably turn to criminal activity to recoup their losses and support their habit, leading to a general rise in crime in the society. Moreover, since in gambling one might earn a great deal of money with almost no effort, it was perceived as
  21. 21. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 473 undermining the values of perseverance and self-discipline, and the working class’s willingness to engage in hard work. The transition from viewing gambling as a sin or deviant behaviour to the viewing it an illness may be traced to the rise in the influence of the psychological outlook from the 1920s onwards, in the wake of scholars such as Edmund Bergler (1957). The psychological view that a gambler was someone who is driven by a subconscious urge to lose, rather than an immoral person as such, was adopted by the National Council on Compulsive Gambling, which actively supported research and funded projects aimed at educating the public about the compulsive gambling illness (Greenberg 1980). Final confirmation that this view had entered mainstream thinking came with the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1980 to include gambling in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III) (Rossol 2001) under the heading of Impulse Control Disorders. This established clear diagnostic criteria for determining whether someone was a pathological gambler – such as repeated failures to control the habit, a rise in the stakes needed to invoke the required thrill, etc. This approach was consistent with a broader trend toward medicalization of other behaviours, such as homosexuality and alcoholism. The fact that gambling and problem gambling affected many in the middle class also helped to promote this attitude, since when a deviant behaviour afflicts the middle class, it is more likely to be medicalized (Conrad and Schneider 1980). The identification and definition of gambling as a pathological behaviour and illness was a turning point in the social perception of gambling, which in turn had a two-fold effect on gambling-related policies and research. On the one hand, the notion that gambling was an illness, with all the problems that this entailed – harm to the individual who cannot control his habit and to his family, and the attendant social and economic costs – played a key part in the arguments of opponents to the legalization of gambling. On the other hand, the fact that gambling was no longer regarded a moral failing or a sin but as a proclivity afflicting only a small percentage of the population with a particular makeup or characteristics, made it possible to promote the essentially utilitarian argument that most people could derive pleasure from such activity without undue harm (Flaehlich 2008). Despite the problematic nature of the notion that the suffering of the few is acceptable provided the rest of the population is enjoying itself (Borrell and Boulet 2007), this is one of the most common arguments heard today in favour of the widespread existence of gambling and casinos. Other trends have also contributed to the legitimacy that gambling has acquired in recent decades, and to its transformation into a recreational leisure activity. The first of these is the weakening of the church’s status as the arbiter of moral standards in society, and changes in the social attitudes in many Western countries toward work, consumption and fiscal prudence in the wake of a shift from a religious-moral outlook to a capitalist one (Chambers 2011; Cosgrave and Klassen 2001; Eadington 1996; Smith 1996; Young 2010). The values of pleasure, narcissism, immediate gratification, self- promotion, getting rich quick, and excessive consumerism have edged aside the previously cherished value of hard work, as gambling for profit and the commodification of gambling became socially acceptable
  22. 22. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 474 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001). They are also a reflection, and caricature, of the new fundamental and fixed values of Western society, and a manifestation of the profound change that has taken place in the American dream with regard to individual fulfillment (Abt and McGarrin 1992). Perhaps the biggest factor behind this change has been the entry of the state into the gambling domain, as a key and dominant player. States and governments play a major part in normalizing, legitimizing and legalizing gambling for profit (Pavalko 2004). Faced with limited financial resources, many governments have come to see gambling as a major source of revenue – a kind of voluntary tax that helps to rein in increased taxation on the population as a whole (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001; McMillen 1996; Pavalko 2004). However, once governments assume a vested political and economic interest in gambling, they effectively lose the moral right to argue against it (Eadington 1996), and help to blur the moraland social arguments involved, and entrench the definition of gambling as a leisure activity (Pavalko 2004). The result is an intricate weave of laws and regulations backed up by a web of arguments in support of gambling, which together have facilitated the establishment of a thriving and readily accessible gambling industry (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001; Preston et al. 1998) in which casino gambling plays a significant and central role. Once gambling was legalized in many Western countries, the focus of the critical discourse shifted to its institutional forms and to the gambling operators, rather than on the issue of gambling per se (Dombrik 1996). Whereas previously the debate had centered mainly on the individual and his weaknesses by psychologizing and highlighting the problems associated with gambling, there was now an additional dimension that emphasized the structural-functional critique of the state’s active role in promoting this behaviour, of the gambling infrastructure, and of its socio-cultural role in society (Abt and McGarrin 1992; Borrell and Boulet 2007; Cosgrave and Klassen 2001; Dombrink 1996; Frey 1984). In particular, the criticism leveled against the state was that it exploited the negative social perceptions of gambling to justify its regulation of gambling, while simultaneously marketing it to the public and being its main beneficiary, citing arguments from the aforementioned Ethics of Tolerance. This criticism is rooted in neo-liberal ideology and policies that call for individual freedom, entrepreneurship, and free market, whereby entrepreneurs should be allowed to operate freely in many fields as possible – including gambling. According to the neo-liberal thinking, the state’s role is to pave the way for the free market to form and for entrepreneurs to operate in it, and even take part in it itself, as one of the players (Harvey 2005). Therefore, it must not only legitimize and support gambling, but also refrain from subjecting it to regulation, as this hampers competition and contradicts the ideas of the free market economy (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001). In this regard, it is also worth examining whether decision to gamble is indeed truly the individual’s genuine choice, or merely the result of a well-oiled marketing machine designed to profit from promoting notions such as pleasure, free will, and the thrill of risk-taking, while in reality manipulating him into choosing what the marketers want him to choose all along. The legalization of gambling and its regulation by the state have made it more accessible, which has given rise to a new type of gambler – the sort who might not have
  23. 23. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 475 considered gambling if it were still illegal (Pavalko 2004). The fact that some people gamble, only because they believe that if it is sanctioned by the state then it must be acceptable, is problematic, because it means that, by promoting gambling, the state has effectively exchanged its relationship of trust, as the people’s custodian, for one of economic expediency and utilitarianism, by emphasizing the good that can come from the proceeds of gambling, such as supporting education or other socially popular causes (Cosgrave and Klassen 2001). As for gambling’s wider social purpose, the pro-gambling lobby claims that from a socio-cultural standpoint, gambling represents an established recreational activity that compensates for some of the unsatisfactory and dysfunctional aspects of contemporary society (McMillen 1996). It argues that in a modern society, with its highly regimented social demand for routine, order and stability, gambling and casinos provide a legitimate opportunity to experience brief thrills, to test one’s courage and to practice decision-taking skills, without exposure to the real risks of life (Abt and McGarrin 1992; Frey 1984). As such, it provides a kind of ‘safety valve’ that regulates the stresses in the individual’s life, contributes to society’s stability and protects its equilibrium (Deveruex 1980). Ironically, this dovetails with the Marxist view that gambling is a kind of ‘opium for the masses,’ which vents any feelings of hostility and distracts them from the range of needs that are left unfulfilled by capitalist society (Kaplan 1984; Nibert 2000). These structural forms, therefore, shift the spotlight away from the advisability of gambling per se toward a debate about the state’s role and the social trends that enable gambling to exist—underlining Pavalko’s view (2004) that when the decision is taken to legalize a particular type of gambling, it is not only moral arguments that come into play, but political and economic interests, as well. Conclusion This response paper has demonstrated how the arguments cited for and against gambling are the product of a broader context involving social, political and economic changes and forces, and driven by certain interest groups in a bid to create a hegemonic discourse. Moreover, to preserve its dominance, this hegemony allows for dissenting views, but only in circumscribed form, so that their impact is minimized (Gramsci 1992). In this regard, researchers and academics, who serve as active agents and form an integral part of the social forces shaping knowledge, have a social and ethical responsibility in their research activities (Borrell and Boulet 2007). Besides positivist and post-positivist studies that place the focus of the gambling problem on the individual and his weaknesses, or which examine the effect of gambling through cost-benefit analyses, (occasionally to the benefit of the interests of political elites and decision- makers), we must also contribute to the critical discourse of gambling, to address questions such as: What is the dominant discourse about gambling in a given country?; Which entities and actors are promoting this discourse, and which are absent from it?; What are the interests underpinning the discourse and the dominant arguments raised in it?; and When the discourse changes, why does it do so? The answers to these questions would give a more
  24. 24. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 476 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 detailed social, political and economic picture and help to examine the decisions taken about gambling behaviour, beyond simplistic pro and con arguments. Like any behaviour, gambling assumes its significance from the social and cultural context in which it occurs (Abt et al. 1985; McMillen 1996; Schwartz and Raento 2011), and is affected by many factors. The complexity and multi-dimensionality of this phenomenon requires a deeper and more critical observation, to reveal, as it were, all faces of the dice. References ABT, V. and MCGURRIN, M. C.(1992). Commercial Gambling and Values in American Society: The Social Construction of Risk. Journal of Gambling Studies 8: 413–420. ABT, V., MCGURRIN, C. and SMITH, J. F. (1985). Toward a Synoptic Model of Gambling Behavior. Journal of Gambling Behavior 1(2): 79–88. BERGLER, E. (1957). The Psychology of Gambling. New York. Hill and Wang. BORRELL, J. and BOULET, J. (2007). Values, Objectivity, and Bias in Gambling Research. In Smith., G., Hodgins., D. C. and Williams, R. J. (Eds.) Research and Measurement Issues in Gambling Studies. London. Elsevier: 567–592. CAMPBELL, C. S. and SMITH, G. J. (2003). Gambling in Canada - From Vice to Disease to Responsibility: A Negotiated History. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 20: 121–149. CHAMBERS, K. G. (2011). Gambling for Profit: Lotteries, Gaming Machines, and Casino in Cross-national Focus. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press. CONRAD, P. and SCHNEIDER, J. W. (1980). Deviance and Medicalization. St. Louise. Mosby. COSGRAVE, J. F. (2006). Editor's Introduction: Gambling, Risk, and Late Capitalism. In Cosgrave, J. F. (Ed.) The Sociology of Risk and Gambling Reader. New York, NY. Routledge: 1–24. COSGRAVE, J. and KLASSEN, T. R. (2001). Gambling Against the State: The State and the Legitimation of Gambling. Current Sociology 49: 1–15. DEVEREUX, E. C. (1980). Gambling and the Social Structure: A Sociological Study of Lotteries and Horseracing in Contemporary America. New York. Arno Press. DOMBRINK, J. (1996). Gambling and the Legalization of Vice. In McMillen, J. (Ed.) Gambling Cultures. London. Routledge: 43–64. EADINGTON, W. R. (1996). The Legalization of Casinos: Policy Objectives, Regulatory Alternatives, and Cost/ Benefit Considerations. Journal of Travel Research 34: 3–8. EADINGTON, W. R. (1998). Casino Gambling - Origins, Trends, and Impacts. In Meyer-Arendt, K. J. and Hartmann, R. (Eds.) Casino Gambling in America: Origins, Trends and Impacts. New York. Cognizant Communication Corporation: 3–15. EADINGTON, W. R. (1999). The Economics of Casino Gambling. Journal of Economic Perspectives 13: 173–192. EADINGTON, W. R. (2003). Measuring the Costs from Permitted Gambling: Concepts and Categories in Evaluating Gambling's Consequences. Journal of Gambling Studies 19: 185–213. FLAEHLICH, C. (2008). "I Just Wanna Play": Women and Electronic Gambling Machines (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada. FOUCAULT, M. (1981). The Order of Discourse. In Young, R. (Ed.) Untying the Text: A Post-structuralist Reader. Boston. Routledge & Kegan Paul: 48–77. FREY, J. H. (1984). Gambling: A Sociological Review. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 474(1): 107–121. GIACOPASSI, D., NICHOLS, M. and STITT, B. G. (1999). Attitudes of Community Leaders in New Casino Jurisdictions Regarding Casino Gambling's Effects on Crime and Quality of Life. Journal of Gambling Studies 15: 123–147. GRAMSCI, A. (1992). Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. New York. International Publishers.
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  26. 26. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 478 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 This paper responds to the probe presented by Shani: Are we asking the right questions to address the ethics of gambling? The lead author attempts to answer the question by offering an ethical assessment of gambling in the context of addiction, work ethic and greed, unproductive disposition, crime, and exposure to alcoholism and prostitution. Of course, a complete understanding of the benefits and costs, and net benefits of gambling is crucial but at this juncture of scholarship inquiry, what is being overlooked is the need to examine numerous ways in which gambling-related externalities can be mitigated or minimized (Ndubisi et al. 2012; Spence and Bourlakis 2012). The ethical debate on gambling is too complex and while much has been accomplished by previous literature in offering simple narratives of the manner in which gambling is immoral or imposes a drain on the environment and existing resources, much remains to be done in the context of balancing competing interests and minimizing harm (Chhabra 2007; Kindt 1998; Yani-de-Soriano et al. 2012). What is needed is a plea for mature ethical reasoning to develop meaningful benchmarks. Dawkins and Lewis (2003) argue that a business needs to acknowledge its bigger role towards society beyond profitability. To accomplish this, first a clear tone is required of the kind of role a gambling business is expected to play; the next step then will be to figure out a comprehensive framework inclusive of ethical, legal and accountable benchmarks (Lindgreen et al. 2009). Ethics of Gambling: Minimizing Harm Deepak Chhabra is Associate professor at the School of Community Resources and Development, 411 North Central Avenue, Suite 550, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ B5004-0690, USA. e-mail: Emerging literature considers numerous perspectives as appropriate to counter gambling-related harm. For instance, several authors argue that a public health approach is the appropriate cure because of the extensive reporting of social ills and drain on the society such as crime, family quarrels, bankruptcies, and alcoholism (Adams and Rossen 2012; Jawed and Griffiths 2010; Yani- de-Soriano et al. 2012). It is argued that public health interventions can impose a check on threats associated with commercial gambling and help build healthy and harmonious social environments. According to Adams and Rossen, an all-inclusive public health perspective calls for the following (2012: 1053): changes to regulation to ensure that gambling devices are safe and that the interest of those who use them are well protected, technological interventions to allowgamblers to much better track and control their expenditure of time and money, systems to allow the earliest possible identification of those with a developing gambling problem, and to facilitate early intervention, and prohibitions on dangerous marketing such as promotions involving children, free food and drink, or rewards for gambling expenditure. A review of documented literature shows that several governments and regulators across the globe have embraced the rhetoric of public health, but it remains to be seen whether these expressions transform into action and to the extent they succeed in mitigating harm. Research discussions centered on these challenges are
  27. 27. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 479 an essential element of good public health practice. Also, since gambling is a public health issue, an extended network of stakeholders and supply chain players need to be considered (Yani-de-Soriano et al. 2012). Examples include those involved in intervention and problem gambling services, social service providers, department of public safety, financial institutions, church groups, local residents, current and potential patrons, and tourism stakeholders such as restaurants, souvenir shops, gasoline stations, and lodging (Tetrevova 2011; Yani-de-Soriano et al. 2012). Existing agendas aimed to minimize harm include: formulating an integrated CSR- Supply Chain approach (Adams and Rossen 2012); public health framework (Tetretova 2011); use of ethical marketing techniques (Blaszcynski et al. 2004); and establishment of a mature ethical reasoning framework. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) broadly refers to activities pursued by a company with regard to its societal responsibility or stakeholder obligations (Brown and Dacin 1997). Crane and Matten (2004) developed one of the most popular CSR frameworks with a list of expectations from businesses: ensuring profitability; remain law abiding; minimizing harm; and evidence of good corporate citizenship. The integrated CSR and stakeholder perspectives require social responsibility towards stakeholders who are impacted by the business’s practices. Several indicators of CSR are presented by literature. Adamoniene and Astromskiene (2010) present key components as: profitability, good working conditions, friendly decision-making; corporate responsibility, sense of citizenship; corporate philanthropy. Pavlik & Belcik (2010 cited in Tetrevova 2011) define CSR as embracing the three Ps of social responsibility in areas of economics (Profitability), social environment (people) and natural environment (Planet). A Corporate Social Performance Model is presented by Wartick and Cochran (1985) (see Figure 1). Principles Processes Policies Corporate Social Responsibilities  Economic  Legal  Ethical  Discretionary Corporate Social Responsiveness  Reactive  Defensive  Accommodative  Proactive Social Issues Management  Issues Identification  Issues Analysis  Response Development Direct at: The Social Contract of Business Business as Moral Agent Directed at: The Capacity to Respond to Changing Societal Conditions Managerial Approaches to Developing Responses Direct at: Minimizing Surprises Determining Effective Corporate Social Policies Philosophical Orientation Institutional Orientation Organizational Orientation Benefits of CSR are reported as many including enhanced corporate acceptance (Palazzo and Richter 2005). However, it is also argued that reporting CSR commitment such as corporate philanthropy can become questionable as it suggests donations to organizations not directly involved in preventing and minimizing gambling related harm or treating the problem of gamblers. Yani-de Soriano et al. (2012) highlight issues between CSR and the online gambling industry in the United Kingdom. Hancock et al. (2008) argue that the governments today are expected to adopt more proactive consumer protection strategies using a new systems approach such as making use of loyalty data and POS (point of sales) data to help track down and identify problem Figure 1. Corporate Social Performance Model Source: Wartick and Cochran (1985: 760)
  28. 28. The Ethics of Gambling: Shani et al. 480 Tourism Recreation Research Vol. 39, No. 3, 2014 gamblers or identify those at the threshold so that protective interventions can be crafted. A case study example is presented by Tetrevova (2011). He examined corporate social responsibility in the Czech gambling industry. Tetrevova’s description of CSR is drawn from five areas: 1) Economic; 2) Social; 3) Environmental; 4) Ethical and; 5) Philanthropic. He conducted a pilot study of the gambling industry in Czech to determine the extent to which it was capable of addressing these perspectives. His study stated that all criteria were met by the industry albeit the ethical area remained questionable. Adams and Rossen (2012) aptly point out that the efforts of intervention services can only be worthwhile if parallel efforts to impose a check, on those, who are vulnerable, exist at different levels. The authors suggest an integrated public health approach to minimize harm by integrating three fundamental elements: 1) harm minimization framework; 2) an outline of how long term strategic plan which incorporates ongoing and informed responses from the local residents in addition to offering them empowerment to respond in a manner they prefer and; 3) political accountability to ensure sincere and accurate responses (Adams and Rossen 2012). The authors in a later publication compare these elements to the motion of a jaw ‘where harm minimization move top-down from policy to intervention, health promotion initiatives moving bottom-up from empowered communities to managed environments and accountability initiatives seeking ways to ensure that the jaws had sufficient force within the political environment to bite onto its target’ (Adams and Rossen 2012: 1052). New Zealand is used as a case study to discuss how progressive changes at different levels are embraced by different interest groups in bringing a positive influence and checking increasing levels of gambling consumption. Examples include crucial transformations within key agencies, a broad spectrum of initiatives embraced by social welfare agencies such as Salvation Army and the Problem Gambling Foundation (such as teaming up with local communities to raise awareness of issues associated with gambling and offering support to craft programmes to deal with damage caused by gambling), more regulation at the government level in monitoring gambling venues, and developing a harm minimization framework. The authors noted phenomenal progress in terms of a variety of initiatives such as health promotion, community assessment criteria, gambling policies developed by the local government and development/training of work-force focusing on public health. It was also noted that the gambling marketing campaigns made extensive efforts to embrace social marketing techniques to advocate that the community needs to take ownership of the social ills caused by gambling. However, few years down the road, issues emerged associated with transforming the public health perspective into reality and something doable (Adams and Rossen 2012). Priorities of government and the health sponsorship Council shifted. The political and lobbying nature of the gambling industry was exposed. One might ask: what doomed this public health approach and what lessons can be gained from this failure? For instance, it was noted that there was a slant towards more consultation from the gambling industry which marginalized the views of other stakeholders and public interest groups. Also, conflicting role of different government agencies and split responsibilities was noted. Another oversight was a view of limiting