Chapter 12: Gamblers' Intuition

Suckers have no business with money anyway.”
~Canada Bill Jones, three-card monte dealer

Americans annually walk into casinos, lottery agencies, video poker arcades, race tracks and the like with more than $500 billion—about thirty-fold from $17 billion in 1974—and walk out with some $450 billion. Gambling is rightly said to have replaced baseball as the American pastime. Seventy million people a year now attend major league baseball games, while 107 million visit casinos in just Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Mississippi. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, appointed by President Clinton and Congress, reported that the money spent on gambling—$54 billion, according to a 2000 General Accounting Office report—is more than Americans spend on recorded music, movie tickets, spectator sports, and theme parks combined. Las Vegas affords 100,000 hotel rooms, billion-dollar hotels, and tycoon profits, thanks to the $6 billion a year that visitors leave behind. But its influence is dwarfed by the legalization of gambling in forty-eight states, hundreds of Native American and riverboat casinos within easy reach of most, and tens of thousands of slot machines. Montana alone has a reported 17,400 video poker and keno machines in 1,700 bars and convenience stores.

Rather than restrain gambling, thirty-seven states now sponsor it, encouraging citizens to join in and depending on them to lose….

Chapter Contents

Who Gambles?
Why Do People Gamble?