Every state in America, with the exception of Utah and Hawaii, offer some type of legalized gambling—from old-school slot machines to sports-betting apps and everything in between. The accessibility to gambling has only amplified with the Internet. Internet casinos have become extremely popular in the United States of America over the last few years. It is estimated that the gambling industry in the USA is worth over $260 billion every year. Around 40 states allow some form of gambling and the industry as a whole, employs nearly 2 million people. Although gambling is illegal in mainland China, Macau is a gambling haven. 50% of Macau’s revenue is made up from gambling alone. In 2018 the city made almost $38 billion. Established in 1905, Las Vegas, Nevada, has since become the gambling and entertainment capital of the world, famous for its casinos, nightclubs, and sporting events. In the first few decades after.
Article ID: DE209 | By: Rex M. Rogers
If baseball once was America’s national pastime, it’s been replaced by a $550 billion-per-year obsession — gambling. Gambling feeds the self-indulgent, instant-gratification mindset that has plagued America in recent decades. Beneath its glittery surface lurk the parallel tragedies of increasing addiction and a decreasing devotion to spirituality. Most Christian churches have been silent about gambling. Scripture is not. Even without a direct commandment, “Thou shalt not gamble,” the Bible offers numerous principles that militate against the practice. Informed Christians will challenge such social evils as state-sponsored gambling and the use of gambling for fundraising. Gambling is a bankrupt abandonment of reason and religion, and in the long run everyone loses.
Mark Twain shrewdly observed that “the best throw at dice is to throw them away.”1 Americans no longer agree. Gambling is the newest Great American Pastime.
State lotteries began in 1964 with New Hampshire, and now bring in $30 billion per year in 37 states and the District of Columbia.2 Some 55 million Americans play lotteries once per month, spending $88 million per day — more than they spend per day on groceries.3
What began as a trickle with state lotteries became a flash flood in 1988 when Native American tribes began taking advantage of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which permitted them to operate casinos on tribal lands. Nearly 300 Indian-run casinos now exist in 28 states with 186 of the 557 federally recognized tribes participating. About 30 casinos are opening per year,4 and additional tribes are vying for a stake in what some have called “the new buffalo.”5
Gambling expenditures now top $550 billion per year.6 That’s more money than Americans spend per year on films, books, amusements, and music entertainment combined. It’s about $1.5 billion per day or an increase of roughly 3,000 percent in the past 20 years.7
With the exception of horse and dog racing, gambling is increasing in every form. Riverboat, dockside, and other off-shore gambling enterprises, including cruise ships, are being proposed in several states as “limited” gambling.
Off-track, parimutuel, jai alai, keno, and video betting are also increasing. So are raffles and bingo. Business Week observed that gambling outlets are becoming “almost ubiquitous” as “mob-affiliated bookies and numbers runners are being supplanted by state governments, charitable and religious groups, and blue-chip entertainment-leisure conglomerates that say they’re in the ‘gaming’ business.”8
THE VICE OF CHOICE
Some 95 percent of American citizens have gambled at some time in their lives. About 82 percent have played the lottery, 75 percent have played slot machines, 50 percent have bet on horse or dog races, 44 percent have gambled with cards, and 34 percent gamble via bingo. Approximately 26 percent have bet on sports events. About 74 percent of the American adult population have gambled in casinos. Polls indicate that at least 89 percent of the American population approves of casino gambling.9
The acceptance of gambling into everyday life is a historic shift in cultural philosophy. University of Nevada, Las Vegas, professor William N. Thompson observed that “the era of expanded legalized gambling has coincided with a trend toward increased permissiveness in society. There certainly is a connection between attitudes about lifestyle, sex, pornography — even abortion and occasional drug use — and attitudes toward gambling. The notion that government has no business in our bedrooms relates to the notion that government has no business telling us how to spend our leisure time and our own money as long as we are doing so without coercion or harm to others.”10
The ethic of self-denial, saving, and capital accumulation is being replaced with a hedonistic consumerism, what Christopher Lasch called the “culture of narcissism.”11 Deferred gratification is shelved in favor of instant demand. Americans want more, and they want it now.
Many Americans no longer work for future earthly or spiritual rewards. They only consume and receive less and less satisfaction from it.12
The philosophy of gambling undercuts one’s ability and desire to defer gratification in order to accomplish a goal. Individual enterprise, thrift, effort, and self-denial are set aside for chance gain, immediate satisfaction, and self-indulgence. In this sense, gambling exemplifies a reversal of American values.13
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM?
Whittier Law School gambling expert I. Nelson Rose believes a third wave of legalized gambling is washing over the United States.14 The first wave began in colonial America when lottery management companies took their place among the largest early-nineteenth-century businesses.15 A healthy economy together with lottery corruption contributed to the decline of legal lotteries by the 1820s.
The second wave of legal gambling began when Southern states looked for revenue after the Civil War. Gambling was a major diversion in late-nineteenth-century Western gold and silver mining camps. Legalized gambling’s second wave of popularity began losing strength in the 1880s with the Louisiana State Lottery scandal (in which local lottery fundraisers evolved into mail fraud and criminal interstate commerce involving corrupt government officials, intrigue, and murder). By 1894, state lotteries were condemned by law, and 36 states adopted antilottery text in their state constitutions.16
While gambling has been legal in (and largely limited to) Nevada since 1931, the third wave of legalized gambling in the United States began in 1964 with the inception of the New Hampshire State Lottery. By 1984, a majority of states had legalized lotteries.17
Bingo was legalized in 1937 in Rhode Island. Some 46 states, the District of Columbia, and all the Canadian provinces now have legalized bingo.18
Horse race betting is legal in 42 states and all Canadian provinces, dog race betting in 19 states, and jai alai games in four states. All 10 Canadian provinces and 48 American states now permit some form of legal gambling. By the year 2000, some experts have predicted that 40 percent of U.S. households will be participating in legalized commerical gambling.19
Legalized commercial gambling is now growing at breakneck speed, spurred by cash–hungry governments, gambling industry promotion of “gaming” as entertainment, and the appeal of new, high-tech video gambling. Some antigambling counselors believe that “decades of church–sponsored gambling [have] also tended to lend approval to games of chance.”20
Only two states still maintain a no-legal-gambling policy: Hawaii and Utah. Hawaii debates the matter periodically. While 60 percent of Hawaiians polled favor a lottery, enough citizens are concerned about damaging the state’s image as an island paradise that lotteries and other commercial gambling are consistently rejected.21
Eugene Martin Christiansen, a gambling industry consultant, believes America’s new love affair with gambling “is part of a fundamental change that is irreversible at this point because the country is changing with fewer people going to church, more older people with time and money on their hands, and especially, with state lottery advertising campaigns that make it seem that buying lottery tickets is almost a patriotic duty.”22
LOSING THE BET
Gambling is a spiritual and financial timebomb in a pretty package, and no demographic group is immune to the social pathologies associated with it.23 Compulsive gambling is increasing rapidly in all population groups, even among teens.
The fastest growing “addiction” among high school and college-age young people is problem gambling, with as much as seven percent or 1.3 million teens considered addicted. Dr. Durand Jacobs, a pioneer in the treatment of problem gambling, believes the rate among teens is at least 10 percent, about twice the rate among adults.24
Howard Schaffer, director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Addiction Studies, predicted, “We will face in the next decade or so more problems with youth gambling than we’ll face with drug use.”25 The National Institute of Mental Health notes that “addiction” to gambling is growing fastest among teenagers.26 Suicide rates are twice as high among teenagers with gambling problems,27 and teenagers are nearly two-and-one-half times as likely as adults to become compulsive gamblers.28
Durand Jacobs noted that “public understanding of gambling is where our understanding of alcoholism was some 40 or 50 years ago. Unless we wake up soon to gambling’s darker side, we’re going to have a whole new generation lost to this addiction.”29
From lotteries in the 1960s to casinos in the 1990s, the gambling industry has grown more rapidly and more explosively than any business in American history. Legalized commercial gambling is now one of the largest industries in the U.S. leisure economy.30
IT’S NOT IN THE CARDS
While the tidal wave of legalized commercial gambling has engulfed the country, the Christian community has greeted this development with a deafening silence. A few local battles have taken place, and during the past two years, Christian leaders such as Gary Bauer, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Ralph Reed have begun to speak out, but so far gambling has garnered very little national attention.
Several reasons may explain why Christians have been rather slow to respond to the spread of legalized commercial gambling:
1.) The conservative Christian “agenda” is packed, focusing on issues like abortion, pornography, crime, gun control, sex education, creationism, “family values,” and prayer in public schools.
2. Conservative Christians, particularly those who call themselves fundamentalists, have been historically reticent to “get involved in politics.”
3.There are no direct biblical commands declaring gambling a sin. And unlike narcotics, which exercise an immediate negative impact upon the user, the harmful effects of habitual gambling take longer to reveal themselves. Moral arguments against gambling are, therefore, more difficult to develop. In a recent survey, George Barna found that only 28 percent of “born again” Christians believe casinos should be illegal in the United States.31
4.) Christians are just as materialistic as everyone else. The lure of quick riches entices Christians to gamble too.
For these reasons as well as others, theological disapproval does not always translate to social or political opposition. Christians seem to be just as uninformed and unconcerned as everyone else.
THUS SAITH THE LORD
There is no “Eleventh Commandment” in the Bible saying “Thou shalt not gamble.” However, gambling violates at least five doctrines of Scripture: the sovereignty of God, stewardship, covetousness, brotherly love, and God’s instruction not to be brought under the power of anything.
Sovereignty of God
Belief in luck and belief in a sovereign God are mutually exclusive, for if an omniscient, omnipotent Creator God exists then luck makes no sense. Things don’t “just happen.” Nothing — including the secondary causes operative in the universe (the “laws” of nature and human choices) — happens outside of God’s will and disposition. So belief in God not only dispells any idea of luck, it also rejects any idea of chance as a determining factor in natural events or people’s destiny. “Depending upon luck and chance is a philosophy which deifies an impersonal view of life and of reality.”32 Any trust in luck rather than God is therefore a form of idolatry.
What appears to be chance to the finite human mind is known to a sovereign God. Casting of lots, for example, is a biblical illustration not of gambling (for no money or other value was placed at risk in hopes of greater gain) but of individuals trusting a sovereign God to direct the “chance” disposition or direction of the lay of the lots. People used “chance” to understand God’s will. Their faith was not in chance but in God. But belief in chance as fate stands in direct opposition to a purposeful creation, ordered and directed by the Sovereign God of the universe. Chance without God is the personification of anarchy and nihilism. God controls, not chance (Amos 3:6).33
The idea that events are ultimately disposed merely by chance is akin to superstition. Pagan superstition is a violation of God’s will. Worshipping the gods of luck and chance is an offense to His character. Gambling is a kind of “secularized divination.”34 It promotes a world view in direct contradiction to biblical Christianity.
God says in Proverbs that “he who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment” (12:11). People often chase fantasies, yielding to the lure of quick riches, the “something-for-nothing” enchantment. But God gives people time, talent, and treasure with an expectation of accountability (Matt. 25:14–30). The Bible teaches that we are to use our God–given wealth to support our families, God’s work, the government, and the needy.
Gambling can undermine the foundations of Christian stewardship — work, rationality, and responsibility. But work is both a command and a gift of God (2 Thess. 3:6–12). And reason is an essential part of being human. “Irresponsibility is man’s abdication of his humanity. We are made to be moral decision-making creatures.”35
Gambling feeds covetousness, the opposite of God’s call for contentment (Phil. 4:11–12). It masquerades as harmless fun while it eventually sucks the dollars and sometimes the life out of those who embrace it (1 Tim. 6:6–10). The basis of all antigambling legislation is the necessity of curbing or controlling covetousness, the very natural and selfish desire to get something for nothing.36
Love Thy Neighbor
Gambling creates a condition in which one person’s gain is necessarily many other persons’ loss. As such, gambling militates against brotherly love, justice, and mercy (Matt. 22:37–40; Mic. 6:8).
Gambling substitutes love of self or love of money for love of neighbor (Rom. 14:21; 15:1; 1 Tim. 6:6–10). Martin Luther said that “money won by gambling is not without self seeking and love of self is not without sin.”37 Gambling, unlike legitimate business practices wherein both parties gain, creates a condition in which individuals are willingly duped of their resources in a something-for-nothing exchange.
To take from one’s neighbor in an unfair exchange is not love, to set up a system in which those least able to afford it lose their livelihood is not justice, and to continue operating a system that exploits human weakness while promoting personal pleasure and profit over others’ pain and loss is not mercy. While it is true that the legitimate marketplace can operate without regard for the Christian value of love of neighbor, this is not an essential and unavoidable character of business. In gambling, love of neighbor is not only impossible, it is systematically suppressed.
Mastery of the Will
Gambling is potentially habitual, what Pascal called a “fatal fascination,” like a moth’s fascination for the candle.38 Some even label the problem an addiction. Yet God makes it clear in His Word that Christians are not to allow their minds or bodies to be mastered by anything other than the Holy Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:12). Anything else leads to idolatry.
The Bible’s doctrines pertaining to the use of money indicate that morality and money are not mutually exclusive. God reveals the former so that mankind will know how to use the latter. Too often, though, people want the money without the morality.
Since governments are comprised of people, it should come as no surprise that they want money without morality too. In gambling, that’s exactly what they’ve got.
GOVERNMENT’S GOLDEN GOOSE
Governments are looking for easy money, so they sell their souls for a promise of riches. Whether government should enhance its revenues with gambling monies — the losses of its citizens — is a moral question, not just an economic one, no matter why people gamble. So far, except for a few scattered antigambling victories, money has bested morality in most contests for legislative hearts.
State government-sponsored gambling turns state government into a huckster. And legalization is followed by legitimation. Gambling is being socially legitimized by virtue of its governmental sanction. A one-time social evil is being transformed into acceptable social policy.
Governments facing budget deficits and antitax sentiment see gambling revenues as a painless panacea. States promote gambling, then use the revenues as a supplementary, “voluntary” tax. Gambling interests sell commercial gambling as a way of salvaging Rust Belt industrial cities.39 Then they lure legislators and voters by associating gambling with some noble purpose like public education or better roads. Such arguments provide a politically palatable “moral justification” that helps dilute or mute opposition to gambling.
In practice, however, state legislatures time and again have refused to stick to promises of earmarked funds. Instead they let gambling revenues pay for promised public works and use general funds for other purposes. Gambling revenues become just another part of the state’s giant budgetary pie.40
In the United States, gambling operations vigorously promote their games, and states are counted among the owners and promoters. There are no governmental restrictions on advertising, free alcohol as a stimulus to gambling, or access to credit on gambling casino premises.41
States do not simply accommodate peoples’ desire to gamble. They encourage gambling. In doing so, states foster superstitious, magical thinking.42
Today, gambling is no longer just a periodic, if questionable, leisure activity fulfilling the purposes of a few individuals. Gambling is being changed into routine behavior that serves the economic ends of casino operators and state governments. The gambling industry now provides a transformed set of more aggressive, commercially profitable games aimed at a mass public.
State-sanctioned gambling has become little more than a set of gambling opportunities designed to produce maximum losses from the maximum number of people. Government has a vested interest in the losses of consumers. This together with the fact that, with a very few exceptions, no wealth is created by gambling means that state governments are no longer acting as representatives of the public interest.43 State governments have joined the gambling industry in mass civic exploitation.
Gambling associates itself with a number of social problems and pathologies, including alcohol and drug abuse, prostitution, violent crime, embezzlement and bankruptcy, theft, spouse and child abuse, and pornography and obscenity. This is why gambling is not a “victimless crime.” What appears to be harmless play with one’s own money becomes a destructive and costly influence on the person and the community.
Gambling sows the seeds of its own demise. Gambling begets gambling. It produces no new wealth.44 The gambling industry is by nature parasitical and predatory. It cannibalizes rather than nurtures local economies and, worse, gambling operations frequently do so while claiming to benefit some universal good like education, economic progress, the environment, or the elderly. Gambling is a fiscal shell game.
So it’s something of a social and political disgrace to see America’s state and local governments buy into and promote gambling with the enthusiasm of pit bosses. It further gambles away the credibility of state and local governments at a time when Americans’ confidence in the efficacy of political institutions is already low.45
Gambling creates so many negative side-effects that businesses will eventually be forced to look for nongambling states. Economist John Warren Kindt predicts that long-term, gambling-free states will enjoy proportionately fewer personal and business bankruptcies, stronger financial institutions, more vibrant economies, and better tourist, community, and business environments.46
I. Nelson Rose says that legalized gambling tends to self-destruct. He believes that a cheating or corruption scandal will trigger the next gaming industry crash in about 35 years.47
A backlash may already be starting. During the past three years, gambling proponents have lost more initiatives than they’ve won. In particular, the National Association against Legalized Gambling, directed by Tom Grey, has been instrumental in winning some 47 statewide and congressional referenda and legislative battles in 27 different states, losing only three. In 1996, only one of seven statewide gambling referenda passed.48
To turn the tide of legalized commercial gambling, I suggest that Christians (and other concerned citizens) work to do the following:
1.) Eliminate state government sponsorship and promotion of all forms of gambling. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: (1) States could privatize state lotteries, thereby getting states out of the ownership and advertising of gambling activities. (2) States could suspend state lotteries, lottos, and other forms of state-sponsored gambling, including race tracks.
Through astute state budgeting, legislators would be required to replace revenues currently generated by state gambling enterprises. In most cases, other state programs will either need to be eliminated or supported by tax increases because states have become dependent on gambling revenues. This, of course, can be politically painful. But it is no more so than the stressful political maneuvering and consensus building necessary to change or eliminate any other program already in the budget.
Even raising taxes is more acceptable than maintaining state lotteries and other gambling operations. It’s certainly more equitable than the support and promotion of games that pilfer money from the electorate.
2.) Stop state-approved expansion of legalized commercial gambling. At a minimum, state legislatures should appoint state gambling commissions charged with evaluating the impact of gambling, in particular casino gambling, on the state population and economy. Such commissions should seek independently generated data, not just information readily provided by the gambling industry.
A state ban on further approval and development of casino gambling would provide time for public and private agencies to study the economic and social impact of gambling on communities. It would also protect communities from the unrepresentative and unfair legal leverage available to Native American tribal groups under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
3.) Legally clarify the 1988 Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. States should work toward preserving state and local authority as well as Native American citizens’ rights to free and fair access to the political process. Casino gambling discussions too frequently become entangled in a threefold cultural and legal web. One part is political correctness. A second is the legal morass enveloping Native American tribal sovereignty. And a third is latent public guilt for the sins, real and perceived, of 300 years of “American Indian policy.”
4.) Reduce nonprofit gambling for fundraising. This can be done fairly and in a manner that furthers the public interest. But the primary responsibility for reducing the use of gambling for fundraising lies with nonprofit organizations, including churches.
A nonprofit organization’s most precious resource is its reputation, for it is the public’s appreciation for a well-conceived mission that gets results that creates support for a cause. Gambling operations undercut the nonprofit organization’s humanitarian reputation and, therefore, diminish the organization’s moral credibility in the community it serves.
A CELEBRATION OF IRRATIONALITY
Gambling demands that the gambler abandon reason. It’s a venue of superstition, a religion-free religion. In a time when valuelessness is valued, gambling fits. In a culture that believes the universe began by chance and that existence and morality are nothing more than the “luck of the draw,” gambling is oddly logical. Gambling is the perfect postmodern pastime.
Gambling is correlated with social pessimism. It flourishes in cultures that no longer believe they can influence their present, much less their future. Gambling blossoms from a mood of despair, powerlessness, and hopelessness. Life is chance — a crap shoot.
Gambling is a metaphor for the current cultural Zeitgeist. It grows out of our cultural philosophy. Americans believe in a world of undefined chaos.
Every civilization in the past 500 years has sought to curtail gambling or its effects.49 Why do Americans think we’re immune to the hazards of gambling? It is because Americans have embraced moral relativism, the postmodern belief in “mobile truths.” Increasing numbers of Americans no longer believe in absolute truth, in right and wrong. If God exists, He must not have anything to say to people. They reject Him, they reject His Word, and they reject His morality. The only thing left is uncertainty — and luck.
For many Americans gambling has become a surrogate religion; a pathological hope; a concession to life based on luck; an admission that there is nothing to life but determinism, fatalism, nihilism.
But gambling is rabbit’s foot religion. It’s postmodern paganism. Gambling asks people to play the odds, and always, in the long run, gambling wins.
Rex M. Rogers is president of Cornerstone College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and author of Seducing America: Is Gambling a Good Bet? (Baker Book House, 1997).
1Norman L. Geisler with Thomas A. Howe, Gambling a Bad Bet: You Can’t Win for Losing in More Ways Than You Can Imagine (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1990), 73.2William N. Thompson, Legalized Gambling: A Reference Handbook (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1994), 3.3John Wheeler, “Losers,” Charisma, September 1997, 71.4“Too Many Casinos,” Grand Rapids Press, 6 October 1997, sect. A; Joseph P. Shapiro, “America’s Gambling Fever,” U.S. News and World Report, 15 January 1996, 59; and Bob Kolasky, “Issues of the Week: Fighting Long Odds,” www.Intellectualcapital.com, 11 September 1997, 2. 5Eugene Martin Christiansen and Will E. Cummings, “Double-Edged Growth,” International Gaming and Wagering Business Magazine, 1 August 1995, 31–32.6Kolasky, 1; and Martin Koughan, “Easy Money,” Mother Jones, July–August 1997, 32.7Frank Rich, “America on Big Bender with Gaming,” Las Vegas Sun, 10 May 1996, sect. B. Christiansen and Cummings, 31–32.8Chris Welles, “America’s Gambling Fever,” Business Week, 24 April 1989, 112–13.9Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Michigan Gaming, Robert J. Danhof, chairman, April 1995, 15. Shapiro, 55.10Thompson, 13.11Vicki Abt, James F. Smith, and Eugene Martin Christiansen, The Business of Risk: Commercial Gambling in Mainstream America (Lawerence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1985), 22.12Ibid., 198–99.13Ibid., 22.14James Popkin with Katia Hetter, “America’s Gambling Craze,” U.S. News and World Report, 14 March 1994, 46; Thompson, 6.15Report of the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling, Charles H. Morin, chairman (Washington, D. C., 15 October 1976), 18–107.16Rufus King, Gambling and Organized Crime (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1969), 74.17In 1969, Canada followed suit by changing its criminal code to allow lotteries and charitable gambling. (Thompson, 8.) Mexico is also flirting with expanded legalized gambling. Casino gambling is being considered in at least 10 major cities and resort destinations. While a national lottery, horse racing, sports betting, and cockfighting have been available for years, the Mexican Congress outlawed casino gambling in the 1930s. Most Mexicans don’t want expanded legalized casinos, however. A poll in The Mexico CityReforma indicated that 68 percent oppose, and 30 percent favor, casinos. See Hayes Ferguson, “Mexico Officials Debate Legalizing Casino Gambling to Aid Economy,” The Grand Rapids Press, 12 November 1995, sect. A.18Christiansen and Cummings, 31–32; Thompson, 3.19Thompson, 3.20“Gambling Addiction Near Epidemic,” The Bottom Line on Alcohol in Society (journal published by the Alcohol Research Information Service, Lansing, MI) 14 (Spring 1993): 1, 7.21Matthew Brown, “Gaming Industry Has No Chance in Utah,” The Grand Rapids Press, 5 May 1996, sect. A.22Cited in David Johnston, Temples of Chance (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 20.23Adolescent Compulsive Gambling: The Hidden Epidemic (The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, n.d.)24Ricardo Chavira, “The Rise of Teenage Gambling,” Time (25 February 1991), 78. J. Taylor Buckley, “Nation Raising ‘A Generation of Gamblers,’” USA Today (5 April 1995), 1A.25Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission, 15; Laurel Shaper Walter, “More Teens Play Games of Chance,” The Christian Science Monitor, 25 April 1990, 16.26Report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission, 15.27“Teen Gambling: Hidden Habit, Public Problem,” USA Today, 5 April 1995, sect. A. This research established correlation between gambling and suicide, but not causality.28Chavira, 78. 29Ibid., 78.30Christiansen and Cummings, 31–32.31Ron Reno, “Gambling with America,” Christian American, July-August 1996, 25.32Larry Braidfoot, Gambling: A Deadly Game (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1985), 182.33R. H. Charles, Gambling and Betting: A Study Dealing with Their Origins and Their Relation to Morality and Religion (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1924), 61.34James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1913), 163.35Lycurgus M. Starkey, Jr., Money, Mania, and Morals: The Churches and Gambling (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1964), 112.36Francis Emmett Williams, Lotteries, Law, and Morals (New York: Vantage Press, 1958), 76.37Lyaugus M. Starkey, Jr., Money Mania and Morals: The Churches and Gambling, [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1964], 37.38Starkey, 27.39This is one of the central premises of Robert Goodman, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America’s Gambling Explosion (New York: The Free Press, 1995).40Thompson, 42.41See Rex M. Rogers, Seducing America: Is Gambling a Good Bet? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1997), 91–92; Abt, Smith, and Christiansen, 76–77.42Charles T. Clotfelter and Philip J. Cook, Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 70.43Abt, Smith, and Christenson, 37, 174–75, 213–15.44Goodman, 163–66.45This point has been well known to political scientists for more than two decades. Most recently it was highlighted on Wolf Blitzer, Inside Politics, Weekend, CNN, 10 January 1998.46John Warren Kindt, “The Negative Impacts of Legalized Gambling on Businesses,” Business Law Journal 4 (Spring, 1994): 93-124.47Popkin and Hotter, 4648“Legalized Gambling on a Losing Streak,” http:// www.Iquest.net/cpage/ncalg/gambling.html (2 June 1997), 1–4.49Charles, 10.
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Which States Have Legalized Online Gambling?
There are many states that have moved forward with legal online gambling and out of those, several have legalized online casinos thus far. Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the onlystates that have launched legal, regulated online casino sites thus far.
List of Trustworthy Casinos in New Jersey
New Jersey was the first state to launch online casino gambling in the US. Casino gambling is actually illegal outside ofAtlantic City, therefore all NJ casino websites must be affiliated with licensed casinos in Atlantic City.
These platforms use age verification features and geolocation technology to ensure that players are at least 21 years of age and playing within the legal jurisdiction.
It is recommended that you only trust websites that are partnered with Atlantic City casinos in order to avoid getting scammed. Casino sites that are not affiliated with licensed casinos arenot legal or monitored by the state.
The following are the licensed and regulated NJ online casino sites that you can trust.
- 888 Casino
- BetAmerica Casino
- Betfair NJ
- BetMGM Casino
- DraftKings Casino
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
- Mohegan Sun
- Ocean Resort
- Pala Casino
- Parx Casino
- PokerStars NJ
- Unibet Casino
- Virgin Casino
How do all of these sites differ? They all offer different promotions and special offers. There are also great loyalty and rewards programs on the New Jersey market depending on which site yousign up with.
So how do you narrow down your options? American Casino Guide has thorough reviews of each online casino to answer all of your questions and narrow down your choices.
List of Legal Casinos in Delaware
Although Delaware is one of the smallest states in America, it also holds some of the best casino options in the country.Racetrack casinos, or racinos, have become a thriving business in Delaware and from there, online gambling sites have evolved. In 2013, just after the re-evaluation of the Wire Act, thefollowing racinos launched their online platforms.
- Delaware Park
- Dover Downs
- Harrington Raceway
List of Legal Casinos in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, online gambling is currently underway. Online casinos have been launching steadily since July 15th, 2019.There is a hefty list of those expected to go live on this date from the following casino operators:
- Mount Airy
- Valley Forge
- Presque Isle Downs
Sometimes you are just after the huge bonuses, and there is no shame in chasing free casino money. Some operators offer bigger (and more frequent) online casino bonuses than others.
What are Online Casino Bonuses
Online casino bonuses are the best part about playing casino games online versus playing in a brick and mortar casino. Casino bonuses and rewards come in many shapes and sizes and unlockdifferent kinds of rewards.
Through registering with licensed USA operators, you can become eligible for a slew of bonuses and rewards. It is important to understand your bonus before using it to play casino games. We cansimplify that for you though.
There are ample opportunities to claim bonuses and play with free money when playing in an online casino. Because the market is so competitive, these brands will try to pull you away fromcompetitors. What’s the best way to do that? By throwing free money at you, of course!
Types of Casino Bonuses
Welcome/Registration Bonus Packages
Sign up and welcome bonuses are offered to new players. Practically all USA online casinos offer some sort of welcome package for depositing real money into your account. Most sites try to maketheir offers stand out from the rest, in order to win over those first-time depositors.
Welcome bonuses can include no deposit bonuses which can be claimed at registration. They almost always will include an online casino first deposit match bonus for new depositing players. Inaddition, some online casino welcome packages also include free spins or cashback.
It is important to note that a casino welcome package will usually come with certain requirements. These could require you to wager your real money bonus a certain number of times beforewinnings can be withdrawn from the account. It is always smart to read the terms and conditions before depositing your money.
No Deposit Bonus Offers
No deposit bonuses are a great way to try out online casino games without depositing your money onto thesite. Since the competition is growing in certain states, it is now easier than ever to find no deposit bonuses. A no deposit bonus is basically a free play bonus, rewarded to you just forsigning up.
Often times, US operators will offer special no deposit bonus codes so that you can try out the games on offer. With no deposit bonus codes, you can try out popular online casino games for freeand with no commitments or obligations. This is also a great way to learn how to play certain casino games, with no added pressure. The best part about a no deposit bonus is that you can playfor free and still earn real money!
Free spins are one of the most popular types of casino bonuses, allowing you to spin the reel on certain slots titles for a chance to earn real money for free. Free spins bonuses give you abetter chance of scoring bonus rounds. Bonus rounds can lead to multiplied winnings, exciting special features with bonuses, and sometimes even more free spins!
Best Casinos Bonuses
Finding the best casino bonuses on the market is as easy as following AmericanCasinosGuide.com. Our experts will show you exactly where to find the top bonuses in the US. We even read the Termsand Conditions for you!
We’ll tell you which deals are the best, and which deals you should pass on. Let us help you be sure that you’re getting everything you want, and nothing you don’t.
What are Online Casino Slots?
Online slots are the most popular casino games in America, created with high-quality technology and captivating graphics.
Most sites even offer free slots for you to try out before depositing money.
How do we review Online Slots?
When reviewing online slots, we break down many aspects of the game including:
- Return to Player Rates
- Bonus Rounds
Some of these factors can strongly impact the winnings that you take away from the game.
Many slots come with real money bonuses. The majority of these slots bonuses come in the form of free spins. There are also online slots bonus rounds that can be activated randomly whenplaying, offering massive payouts and rewards. Bonuses differ from game to game.
Another form of slot bonuses comes in a bonus wheel spin. Bonus wheels are made of different sections including prizes, multipliers, free spins, jackpots, and bonus credit.
Then there are Pick’em bonuses, which reveal hidden prizes once activated.
Sometimes there are random bonus rounds for slots players. These bonuses are activated at complete random, during or after a spin. Random bonuses can turn a losing spin into a winning spininstantly.
What Are Free Spins?
Free spins are one of the best ways to make money playing online slots. Free spins are exactly as they sound - spins onthe online slot machines without having to spend any money.
How Do You Get Free Spins?
Free spins can be earned in a number of different ways.
When registering with an online casino, you will usually receive a hearty welcome package. 9 times out of 10, this will include a number of free spins to try out the casino’s most popular slotstitles.
Regular players can also receive free spins bonuses as a reward for their loyalty.
Another exciting way to earn free spins is through bonus rounds in certain slots games. Slots games with bonus rounds can be super exciting as you never know what rewards you will unlock!
Best Free Spins Bonuses
Hard Rock Casino has one of the best welcome bonuses around! If you register an online casino account with Hard Rock, you receive 50 free spins toward five select slot games.
- Day 1: 10 Free Spins on Starburst (RTP: 96.1%)
- Day 2: 10 Free Spins on the Guns N Roses Slot (96.98%)
- Day 3: 10 Free Spins on Divine Fortune (96.59%)
- Day 4: 10 Free Spins on the Jimi Hendrix slot (96.9%)
- Day 5: 10 Free Spins on Finn and the Swirly Spin (96.61%)
Other casinos offer great bonuses which allow you a large number of free spins.
BetMGM offers $25 in free play plus a 100% match bonus on your first deposit up to $1,000.
Borgata Casino follows close behind with $20 in free play and a 100% match bonus on your first deposit up to $600.
Depending on how much you deposit, that could be a lot of free spins!
Online Casino Games
Almost all of your favorite casino games can now be found and played online in absolute comfort. The online casino market in the US has unleashed a wide variety of games with the technology toensure fair play across the board.
What Are Online Casino Games?
USA online casino games range from the classic popular game choices to more unique titles that are exclusive to certain sites.
Before you begin playing, it is important to brush up on strategies and learn the RTP rates associated with your favorite games. RTP stands for return-to-player and refers to the likelihood ofwinning that game or the amount of money a player could win back from the game after a certain period of playing.
Where to Play Casino Games Online
We recommend that you play casino games at any legal and regulated online casino. You can access massive game libraries at online casinos and enjoy playing any of the games once you haveregistered and made a deposit.
List of Different Casino Games
Online roulette is another favorite in American casinos online. This French game has evolved into many different forms. Onlineroulette moves much quicker than live roulette and the randomness of the wheel relies on a random number generator. American casinos offer versions of both online American Roulette and EuropeanRoulette.
Blackjack is often a favorite amongst many different skill levels in America. The game is easy to learn and becomes more exciting as you catch on to card counting and more advanced techniques.Online blackjack is a great way to learn how to play the game and to practice your blackjack betting strategy without thepressure of other players sitting around you.
Online craps is offered in American online casinos with special features that are not available in the land-based casino versionsof the game. The rules in online craps are quite simple and the betting options are quite varied. In online craps, betting choices determine the course of action.
Bingo is a popular game everywhere, and you can find many different variations of online bingo on US sites. Players purchase cards and the games begin at certain times. Bingo numbers are chosenvia a random number generator and then automatically painted to the player’s ticket.
Poker is one of the most popular betting games in the world. Online video poker is an online casino game for those who enjoy this game of strategy and skill. Video poker allows you to practicethe game of poker before playing at a live table under pressure. This game comes in many different variants including single-hand and multi-hand games. Different variations of online poker areoffered along with many different platforms, however, these are the most common:
- Jacks or better
- Bonus Poker
- Double Bonus Poker
- Deuces Wild
Once you have become a seasoned poker player, there are many online poker tournaments held through certain sites. Live dealer games are becoming increasingly popular.
What are Live Casino Games?
Live dealer casino games are games played in real-time, allowing you to interact with a live dealer while playing on your own device. Live dealer games give you the thrill of a live casino withthe convenience of playing online!
How to Play Live Casino
In order to play live casino games, you will first need to be registered with a legal online casino. Once you haveregistered, you can then play any of the casino games offered to you in the game library. Live dealer games will have allotted times so be sure to check the schedules for the live casino gamesyou wish to play.
Live dealer tables vs RNG
Playing at a live dealer casino table is going to give you a much different experience than playing with an online casino game powered by a Random Number Generator (RNG).
Regulated online casinos are able to offer fair outcomes as these outcomes are determined by an RNG. This is a system that provides random numbers, cards, or symbols at complete random to makesure that the games being played have completely random outcomes. There are no patterns generated by this system. The RNGs are checked every month to make sure they are still delivering fairresults.
When playing a live casino game, the action is happening in real-time as you watch on the screen. You can watch the dealer hand out the cards or watch the croupier spin the wheel. There is alarge social aspect to a live dealer game as you can actually interact with the dealer and other players throughout the game.
Although it may seem at first glance that Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the main casino hubs, mobile casinos are the next big thing, thanks to the evolution of the American gambling market.The great American casino is now right at your fingertips!
How Does Mobile Casino Work
In order to play mobile casino games, you must register with an online casino. This can be done online or on a mobile device. Online casinos offer mobile apps for iOS and Android devices.Once the registration process is complete, simply download the app and start playing!
Are Mobile Casinos Legit
Mobile casinos are as real and trustworthy as they come. Playing in a mobile casino is no different than playing in an online casino. All of your deposits and withdrawals are secured with thehighest levels of SSL encryption technology. With the technology used, it is impossible for third parties to intercept any data being sent. All software used comes from highly regarded softwareproviders.
Mobile Casino Games
Mobile casino games are almost identical to the games you would play on your desktop. Mobile apps offer a smaller selection of games, however, the graphics and layout of the games make theexperience largely similar to that of playing on a bigger screen.
Casino Customer Support
Customer support is a very important aspect of an online casino. Most operators will offer a variety of customer support channels for users. You will usually find
- Live Chat
- Phone Number
- FAQ Section
Popular Casino Payment Methods
- Visa - The most popular banking method in the US, Visa allows easy deposits into legal US online casino accounts.
- Mastercard - Widely used across the US, Mastercard allows deposits into most online casinos in the US.
- eCheck - Making deposits and withdrawals through your online casino account with the use of eChecks proves to be both convenient and safe. The funds travel from your bank account into youronline casino account and vice versa, seamlessly.
- Prepaid Cards - This payment option is beneficial for those trying to not overspend but still want the convenience of fast and secure transactions. Most online casinos in the US offerprepaid cards
Online casinos share many different casino games supplied by many different software providers. It’s important to make sure the online casino you register with offers games supplied byreputable software providers. There should be a wide selection of popular games
Be sure to consider the following when reviewing software providers.
- Visually Appealing Graphics: Top providers should deliver games designed in the latest technology. It is crucial that games are available for both desktop and mobileplay.
- Safety and Fairness: All games should be tested to make sure they are both secure and offer fair results.
- Game Selection: Players should have a wide variety of game variations, especially in slots titles. Game libraries should offer nice selections for both desktop and mobiledevices.
- Reputability: It is important that the games you play are created by reputable game providers. Look for providers who have been in the industry for a long time and haveproven themselves to be reliable.
Best Game Providers in the US
Some of the top providers include:
- Pragmatic Play
- Realtime Gaming
Legislation and Regulation
Online gambling is not legal throughout the entire US and more importantly, playing on an online casino is only legal in four states for now - NewJersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.
In the USA, laws differ between federal and state legislation. Federally, online gambling can be made legal in any state. But if only it were that simple.
Online gambling laws were assumed to be defined through the state’s rights. However the problem arose when it came to interstate gambling. When money changes hands, it becomes a federal issue.This became an international issue as offshore casinos tried to lure in U.S. customers. This is prohibited by federal law. Still, many illegal casinos have operated under the radar, and fundswere not always safe.
How are Casinos Regulated?
Each state is now able to create its own laws around online gambling. The four states which have legalized online gambling are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia. This meansthat all licensed operators are controlled and monitored by the state governments to ensure player fairness and safety.
State economies are evolving as these states legalize online gambling, and these financial gains are encouraging many other states to follow suit. This domino effect of online gamblinglegalization in the US is spreading throughout the country.
The Risks of Playing with an Unregulated Casino
There are loads of illegal offshore casinos which cannot be trusted. The only way to be sure that you are playing fair games and that your data and personal information is safe is by choosing areputable, legal, regulated online casino.
When you play at an unregulated casino, you're putting your safety and money at risk. These types of sites have no protection and are the prime targets for hackers looking to steal money oryour personal information. We recommend avoiding off-shore casinos at all costs.
How Secure are Online Casinos?
Online casinos that have been deemed legal in certain states are very safe. All of the casinos we recommend are subject to random testings that are done on the games and software on thesite. Random number generators are also used by each casino to ensure every game has a randomized outcome for everyone who plays.
Every state legalizing online casinos has a Gaming Board to see over all of the gambling sites. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are two of the biggest hubs for online casinos in the country rightnow and both are very safe markets.
For a casino to avoid being shut down, they must see that all of the guidelines and rules are followed. The slightest misstep could cost an operator millions, which no one wants to risk.
Who Are We?
We are AmericanCasinoGuide.com, the best casino guide for US players. We are experts who believe that knowledge is money and we are well-equipped to enhance your online casino experience.
Whether it’s finding the best online casino to sign up with, discovering new bonuses, or understanding how slot machines work, we have it all! If your goal is to play online casino games andearn real money, you’re in the right place.
The more you know about each game and each casino, the more successful you will be. Although online casino games rely a great deal on chance and casinos almost always carry the edge, there areways you can increase your winning odds and enhance your overall online casino experience. Casino games are about having fun, but who doesn’t want to walk away with a profit?
Our experts have the best game recommendations and strategy guides you can find. We are here to guide you to finding the best casino and playing smarter so you can start maximizing yourwinnings today!
Why Trust Us?
Gambling Problem In America
The internet abounds with stories of folks getting ripped off by off-shore casinos. That’s why we at American Casino Guide only review and recommend completely legal, state-approved, andregulated casinos. You have the same protection for your legal online casino financial transactions as you do when buying from a store. You can be sure you are shopping smart by using ourcomprehensive reviews.
You can trust us because our experts love online casino games just as much as you do. American Casino Guide has been around for years, and we know the industry inside and out. Our experts arescouring the market daily, trying out new games, and searching for the best deals.
Online Casino USA - A Glimpse Into the Future
There are just a handful of states in America with regulations in place around legal online gambling, but it's safe to say we can expect much more in the future. Many states are currently goingthrough the motions of putting legislation in order for the regulation of USA online casinos and poker.
American Gambling Awards
American Casino Guide experts work hard to stay up to date with the recent news on American online gambling laws. We provide thorough overviews of the industry along with comprehensive listsand reviews of online casinos in the US.
Many state legislatures are - at this moment - debating legalizing online casino gaming in their states. Legalization is rapidly changing, sometimes overnight, and our team is committed tobringing you the latest developments of online casino gaming in the United States.
Land-Based Casinos - The Complete Guide
In American Casino Guide, you have everything you need to navigate the land-based casino territory of the USA. The United States has a mix of many different land-based casinos. Depending on thestate you are in, you could find a variety of different casinos including:
- Casino boats
Our experts have compiled a plethora of information on all casinos in the country. You can view each casino in the US, listed by the state, as well as listed by the city. Finding reviews onthese is simple.
We provide the most honest casino reviews. In these listings, you will also find additional information on each casino such as:
- hours of operation
- casino games provided
- hotel rates
- maps and directions
Finding this information is simple. When navigating American Casino Guide, you will see a list of all American states. Here is where you navigate to the lists of casinos in each state.
Popular Casinos by State
Once you find the state of your choice, you will find an alphabetical list of land-based casinos in that state.Each of these is rated. You can read reviews on any of these casinos and find all of the information you could possibly need - from the types of games they offer to whether or not there is freeparking at the facility.
Popular Casinos by City
Want to get more specific? Search casinos by the city to find the list of casinos in any particular city on themap. The casinos are all rated and offer honest reviews from the public. Any information you need to know about casinos in the US can be found in these guides.
Land-Based Casino Promotions
What’s more, American Casino Guide offers bonus codes and coupons for casinos all across the US. Just browse through our promotions pages and find something special. Collect your promotions,read our casino reviews, and prepare yourself for the perfect outing at your favorite American casino!
American Gambling Odds
Gambling is intended for entertainment, but if you or someone you care about has a gambling problem, get help now. Call 1-800-GAMBLER for immediate help or visit www.ncpgambling.org.