Culture is represented by a group of people through learned behavior, values, and beliefs that transmit from generation to generation through shared experience and communication. There are a variety of ways in how our culture, socio-economic makeup, and socio-cultural differences impact gambling. Some have a greater influence than others, but there are some differences worth mentioning that encompasses gambling and addiction.
Still in the Infancy Stages
Gambling is the act or practice of betting or in other words “staking” something of value with the understanding of risk yet strong desire for gain, based on the outcome of an uncertain event, game, or contest. And while there is the potential for major financial gain and status, gambling can also be a gateway to addiction and emotional and mental deterioration. Unlike other addictions like drugs and alcohol, food or even sex, the cultural impact of gambling on society is still being explored. There is an established 12 step support system for those that crumble to crippling financial consequences of gambling, but what are some of the cultural or socio-cultural impacts of gambling on society that lead to such a devastating low?
The Boom of Technology
the old-school way of going to the casino and playing the slot machines or craps table is slowly being overturned by technology, more specifically the World Wide Web. The internet is accessible and affordable. People don’t need to do much in order to establish a connection and there are an endless amount of places to go once online. Google has an algorithm that tracks trends and behaviors and the more web searches you conduct, the higher probability you will fall victim to targeted marketing. Businesses and establishments like casinos or online betting forums need people in order to function and why not leverage the internet to gain interest? If you decide to explore your online gambling options, you don’t have to worry about getting dressed up or spending money on travel, room, and board. You can stay at home and gamble from the comfort of your couch either on your cell phone, laptop, or tablet. The socio-cultural trend and intent with technology are to offer ease and comfort. Our culture has established shared beliefs and values around the practice of doing less but gains more. The internet has allowed society to not rely on our own reservoir or sources of information but instead rely on seeking all answers from a technological application. And who wouldn’t want to make money without moving from their couch?
Casinos will also market their services and products to groups that they believe can be easily persuaded and influenced which helps build their financial footprint but can exploit the end-user. It is socially acceptable to give away email addresses for the purpose of staying “informed,” and while this can be an invasion of privacy and can cause a flood of unnecessary emails, it is a foundational business practice to expand sales and increase profits. In simple terms, culture is the shared pattern of values and beliefs and something that you see over and over again as a child or young adult, that can become a normal and acceptable part of life. For example, there are a number of free online betting sites that are easy to join. They offer all disclosures upfront and can immediately determine if you are eligible to gamble from your current address and they streamline the process of adding payment information. That is the required step to set up an account and the internet has promoted this insatiable need for instant gratification so there is a high probability of you signing up for an online betting site if you are not balanced both mentally and emotionally. This is a normal and acceptable action of those that may need fast cash, but the behavior may become too compulsive to control, curb or stop.
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It’s Sanctioned, No Harm, No Foul
All government sanctioned lotteries affirm that gambling is socially acceptable by allowing you to purchase lottery tickets. They are easy to buy and accessible at all gas stations that are also places where there is guaranteed foot traffic. And despite the government’s mandated disclosures that consumers should gamble responsibly, that is not compelling enough to deter you from purchasing a lottery ticket. The act and participation in all government-sanctioned lotteries is a culturally acceptable activity until it’s not.
Stimulating the Economy
Casinos play a major role in creating upward financial movement in an area. The increased income and improved infrastructure and economy can help boost the cost of living and attract more people. The downside is there could be a higher probability of crime not only against guests but also the casino and business itself.
How is there a cultural connection?
There has been research done to prove that some cultures and socio-economic groups are more susceptible to addictive behavior based on family history. A generation or culture of people can experience continuous indifferences like prejudice, hostility, and despair and that learned experience can be passed from generation to generation. Those stories of oppression and humiliating moments can leave a negative imprint on you, that you then share with your children and grandchildren who carry that story with them, which ultimately influences their perspective on other ethnicities, religious beliefs, and social norms. And by categorizing people at that level of vulnerability, experts believe there is a higher chance for groups to fall victim to addictive behavior or to at least act out. For example, a new casino may attract a large, affluent group of tourists that start to take over the neighborhoods. The locals may not like that and based on their family history of oppression and segregation, they may find ways to cheat the casino and rob its patrons. This leads to cultural indifference and erosion. That learned negative experience of being less than another culture or group of people can be a catalyst to a negative impact of gambling or really any other type of addiction. The more important thing to ask yourself is what can be done to minimize that negative, learned experience and unify those indifferences?