Gambling Addiction & Ethical Issues

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Addiction to gambling can be as much of a problem as drug addiction or alcoholism. The recent rise in popularity of casino gambling, online gambling and gambling to raise funds for charitable organizations poses many social and ethical issues. Gambling and the availability of gambling opportunities in the community raises special problems for someone struggling with the addiction.

Increase in Casino Gaming

With the increase in casino gambling throughout the world, a rise in gambling addiction seems an obvious result. However, the ethical issues related to casino gambling go beyond the problem of addiction. According to The Boston Globe at Boston.com, discussion of gambling forces public policy makers to deal with issues as diverse as addiction, tribal rights, taxation, senior living, professional and college sports, organized crime, neurobiology, suicide, divorce and religion.

Ethical Issues of Online Gaming

Online gaming presents a complex issue in terms of ethics and gambling addiction. For people with gambling addictions the ease and convenience of gambling from the comfort of home decreases the addict’s ability to resist the urge to engage in the addictive behavior. The ability to fund the activity through online bank transactions and credit cards contributes to addictive online gambling. According to Adrienne Welch & Danielle Crowley in the University of Rhode Island website, addiction is more of a concern with online gambling because of the quickness and ease of accessing the gambling. Statistics show that if you have to get up and go to a casino you won't go as much, but if you just click on a website, it will be likely that you gamble more frequently.

Gambling for Charitable Causes

Charitable gambling benefits religious organizations, charities or other worthwhile causes. The thought of gambling benefiting some worthwhile cause can lead the gambling addict to rationalize his addictive behavior and in turn lead to participation in gambling activities. According to CharityVillage.com, the most recent stats from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse indicate that nearly 5 percent of Canadians, close to 1,000,000 people, currently suffer from some form of gambling addiction. With the rise of gaming on the Internet and in communities, research suggests this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Another key issue raised is gambling-related deaths. Though the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse does not have a position on charity gaming per se, it suggests that the number of suicides as a result of gambling across both for-profit and charity gambling could be in the thousands annually.

Read More: What Can Happen if You're Caught Gambling Underage at a Casino?