Is Gambling Ethical?

2

April 29, 2013 by Liberty

ImageThinking about a career in gambling?

Check out this article on Career Amorality.

This is a question that doesn’t come up as much as it should. It says a lot of the underlying philosophy that someone sees the world with. The way someone feels about gambling, excluding religion, says a lot about the way someone views the world. Gambling is a situation when one person wins and another person loses. Out of the casino, the amount exchanged is equal. Gambling appears to not create any value. What one man loses, another man gains.

One topic that is bound to come up is the people that go broke gambling. That topic can’t be introduced without the opposite also being considered. Some people get rich gambling. These end up canceling each other out. That makes the topic completely pointless to discuss. For every person going broke gambling, there are people benefiting equally. (Most of my examples are going to be excluding the casino for simplicity but I will go over that later.)

 Arguments Against Gambling’s Ethics

First, I want to get religious objections out of the way. Anyone that is against gambling for religious reasons can’t be considered (as with any unprovable argument made for those purposes.) I’ll completely avoid that aspect.

One of the biggest problems people see with gambling is the dog eat dog style of profiting. The people that benefit will be benefiting from the loss of another person. That is very true. In fact, the vast majority of the money ends up in the hands of very few people. The people that know how to profit off gambling make significantly more than those just playing for fun. A lot of people are losing to benefit very few people.

The problem I find with this argument is that it could be considered for gambling ethics, business ethics, and just about everything else in the world. For example, one restaurant’s growth is usually at the expense of another local restaurant. Customers go to the one they prefer more often costing the other restaurant owners money.

This can also be seen in nature. When one species is thriving and growing, it’s prey starts to suffer. The great thing about nature is that it has it’s own protection mechanisms inherent in the system. As one species kills off it’s prey, the species uses up its own food supply. That slows down the population growth. That allows the prey to correct itself. (Naturally, it doesn’t always work out that way.)

Gambling has its own mechanisms. Most people that lose money gambling slow down with their gambling. (Naturally as well, it doesn’t always work out that way.)

The second argument made, generally against gambler’s is that there is no value being added to the world. Someone that works in a factory can say that they made x product at the end of the day. That, to some extent, means they’re doing something for the world. They’re making an impact. Gamblers are doing nothing but taking the money from people that don’t know as much as they do.

It’s fair to say that their is no material value created by gamblers. That could also be said about a million other careers as well though. Prostitutes are an easy example. The value they create is in the eyes of their customer. It’s not only with unethical careers though. Lawyers don’t create anything when they give you advice but they certainly charge you a lot. Oftentimes, they only deliver a few sentences of value.

The natural argument against this is that their is some value from prostitutes and lawyers. Their customers go away having gained value. The truth is that it can’t be simplified to that. People don’t always leave their lawyers happy. (I don’t at least.)

What is the service that the gambler provides?

They provide entertainment. They also provide something else that my lawyer doesn’t provide. They provide the opportunity for someone else to benefit immensely. You can’t get that from sitting your money on your bed. You can get it from stocks, opening businesses, and gambling. Gambling is one that require very little actual investment. The skilled gambler can never know when someone more skilled is actually playing them.

The last argument made against gambling is a rather obscure but powerful one. The statistics make it very clear that areas known for gambling have noticeably higher crime rates. That, according to the argument, suggests that gambling encourages other negative kinds of behavior. The mere existence of gambling areas can create more violence and negative behavior.

Despite it providing a service, not all services can be considered ethical services. Hitmen provide a service but I wouldn’t say they’re ethical. This argument is a powerful one for many people. To understand it fully, you have to consider this:

When was the last time you were at a poker game that someone pulled a gun. Sure, it happens but statistically speaking it’s almost never. Gambling is less likely to get you shot than walking down the streets of most major cities that outlawed gambling. There is no logical way to connect the crime and gambling. If I was to make a guess, I would assume that alcohol is the issue in most cases (proof actually exists for that assertion, look up the details yourself if that concerns you,) but really no one can possibly no all of the triggers. I see it this way: if you can’t actually see what’s unethical, then it’s not unethical.

I can understand why it can leave a bad taste is some people’s mouths. It’s a little bit direct.

 People Gamble Daily

Gambling doesn’t only take place in casinos and poker games. People gamble with just about everything they do. If you have a retirement plan then you’re gambling with your money. That money can go up and down in value. A government initiative can make the stock useless in a day. While, it’s not directly dog eat dog, the most common way the business gain grow profits is by causing someone to lose a little.

On the other hand, if you have cash in your pocket then you’re gambling. The dollar can collapse or explode in value at any second with any of a billion random occurrences. There is just no way to stop it. Gambling is something that happens in every decision we make.

Deciding between two things can cost more than we expect.

There is just no way around it but most of the time, it’s invisible to people.

Gambling, on the other hand, is not invisible. You can watch the money come and go fast. Quite frankly, I don’t like the feeling. I don’t want to have to see all the ups and downs.

Despite my personal distaste with gambling, there is no reason to believe that it is somehow unethical. Is gambling ethical or unethical? To me it’s like asking if breathing is ethical. Every breath taken uses up some of the supply of oxygen. Someone else doesn’t get it. Most of life is a zero sum game by certain definitions. Gambling is no different.

2 thoughts on “Is Gambling Ethical?

  1. […] forming issues. Drugs legal 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and illegal      Gambling 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, […]

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