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As money making became quite literally a way of life for a growing class of merchants, the minimizing of risk also became a way of life—extending to leisure as well as work.Some have argued that the gambling debate has been largely overruled by the very success of the industry and the dependence on that industry in many local economies around the United States.
Lotteries are perhaps the most widely attested form of large-scale gambling in Western history, and state-supported lotteries that are recorded in medieval Europe as early as the 15th century were intended to help raise funds to pay for military fortifications.
It is hard to separate the history of gambling in human civilizations with the history of the very idea of chance.
The vast majority of Americans have gambled at least once.
One can place bets on dog and horse races in 43 states, buy lottery tickets in 42 states, gamble for charity in 47 states, and play at commercial casinos in 11 states. From Sin to Foolishness: Changing Western Attitudes V. Conclusion Definitions of gambling are elusive, but a helpful suggestion has been made by M. Griffiths, a scholar and historian of gambling in Western culture, as “an exchange of wealth determined by a future event, the outcome of which is unknown at the time of the wager” (Dickerson and O’Conner 2006, 7).
There are Islamic religious traditions that question gambling in much stronger terms than either Catholic Christianity or Judaism.
As strictly religious attitudes lost influence on European societies during the Enlightenment (18th century), religious condemnations began to be replaced with ideas that gambling was an irrational and wasteful pastime.
It would be difficult to find specific biblical injunctions against gambling, and within Judaism and Christianity, for example, there is a history of tense coexistence with gambling, particularly from the perspective of historical Judaism and the Roman Catholic Church.
However, there is a tradition of a more intensively negative view in the Protestant Christian tradition, with similarities to Aristotle’s notion of waste, and, later, its associations with other activities seen as sinful (e.g., drinking and other forms of excess and, even more recently, organized crime).
Pathological gambling, on the other hand, has a recently defined set of diagnostic criteria according to the American Psychiatry Association.
Among the more common criteria with which to diagnose pathological gaming are assessing whether a person: (1) is preoccupied with gambling (constantly thinking about past games and getting money for future betting); (2) needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve desired level of excitement; (3) has repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling; (4) is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling; (5) after losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (chasing one’s losses); (6) lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling; (7) has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational career opportunity because of gambling; and (8) relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.