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Gambling is the wagering of money

or something of value (referred to as “the stakes”) on an event with an uncertain outcome, with the primary intent of winning money or material goods. Gambling thus requires three elements be present: consideration, risk (chance), and a prize.[1] The outcome of the wager is often immediate, such as a single roll of dice, a spin of a roulette wheel, or a horse crossing the finish line, but longer time frames are also common, allowing wagers on the outcome of a future sports contest or even an entire sports season.

The term “gaming”[2] in this context typically refers to instances in which the activity has been specifically permitted by law. The two words are not mutually exclusive; i.e., a “gaming” company offers (legal) “ gambling” activities to the public[3] and may be regulated by one of many gaming control boards, for example, the Nevada Gaming Control Board. However, this distinction is not universally observed in the English-speaking world. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the regulator of gambling activities is called the Gambling Commission (not the Gaming Commission).[4] The word gaming is used more frequently since the rise of computer and video games to describe activities that do not necessarily involve wagering, especially online gaming, with the new usage still not having displaced the old usage as the primary definition in common dictionaries.

Gambling is also a major international commercial activity, with the legal gambling market totaling an estimated $335 billion in 2009.[5] In other forms, gambling can be conducted with materials which have a value, but are not real money. For example, players of marbles games might wager marbles, and likewise games of Pogs or Magic: The Gathering can be played with the collectible game pieces (respectively, small discs and trading cards) as stakes, resulting in a meta-game regarding the value of a player’s collection of pieces.

History

Gambling dates back to the Paleolithic period, before written history. In Mesopotamia the earliest six-sided dice date to about 3000 BC. However, they were based on astragali dating back thousands of years earlier. In China, gambling houses were widespread in the first millennium BC, and betting on fighting animals was common. Lotto games and dominoes (precursors of Pai Gow) appeared in China as early as the 10th century.[6]

Playing cards appeared in the ninth century in China. Records trace gambling in Japan back at least as far as the 14th century.[7]

Poker, the most popular U.S. card game associated with gambling, derives from the Persian game As-Nas, dating back to the 17th century.[8]

The first known casino, the Ridotto, started operating in 1638 in Venice, Italy.[9]

Regulation

Gamblers in the Ship of Fools, 1494

“Players and courtesans under a tent” by Cornelis de Vos
Main article: Gambling law
Many jurisdictions, local as well as national, either ban gambling or heavily control it by licensing the vendors. Such regulation generally leads to gambling tourism and illegal gambling in the areas where it is not allowed. The involvement of governments, through regulation and taxation, has led to a close connection between many governments and gaming organizations, where legal gambling provides significant government revenue, such as in Monaco or Macau, China.

There is generally legislation requiring that the odds in gaming devices be statistically random, to prevent manufacturers from making some high-payoff results impossible. Since these high-payoffs have very low probability, a house bias can quite easily be missed unless the odds are checked carefully.[10]

Most jurisdictions that allow gambling require participants to be above a certain age. In some jurisdictions, the gambling age differs depending on the type of gambling. For example, in many American states one must be over 21 to enter a casino, but may buy a lottery ticket after turning 18.

Insurance
Because contracts of insurance have many features in common with wagers, insurance contracts are often distinguished under law as agreements in which either party has an interest in the “bet-upon” outcome beyond the specific financial terms. e.g.: a “ bet” with an insurer on whether one’s house will burn down is not gambling, but rather insurance – as the homeowner has an obvious interest in the continued existence of his/her home independent of the purely financial aspects of the “ bet” (i.e., the insurance policy). Nonetheless, both insurance and gambling contracts are typically considered aleatory contracts under most legal systems, though they are subject to different types of regulation.

Asset recovery
Under common law, particularly English Law (English unjust enrichment), a gambling contract may not give a casino bona fide purchaser status, permitting the recovery of stolen funds in some situations. In Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale Ltd, where a solicitor used stolen funds to gamble at a casino, the House of Lords overruled the High Court’s previous verdict, adjudicating that the casino return the stolen funds less those subject to any change of position defence. U.S. Law precedents are somewhat similar.[11] For case law on recovery of gambling losses where the loser had stolen the funds see “Rights of owner of stolen money as against one who won it in gambling transaction from thief”.[12]

An interesting wrinkle to these fact pattern is to ask what happens when the person trying to make recovery is the gambler’s spouse, and the money or property lost was either the spouse’s, or was community property. This was a minor plot point in a Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Singing Skirt, and it cites an actual case Novo v. Hotel Del Rio.[13]

Religious views Max Kaur [et] and religious leaders, protest against gambling, Tallinn, Estonia

Hinduism
Ancient Hindu poems like the Gambler’s Lament and the Mahabharata testify to the popularity of gambling among ancient Indians. However, the text Arthashastra (c. 4th century BC) recommends taxation and control of gambling.[14]

Judaism
Ancient Jewish authorities frowned on gambling, even disqualifying professional gamblers from testifying in court.[15]

Christianity
The Catholic Church holds the position that there is no moral impediment to gambling, so long as it is fair, all bettors have a reasonable chance of winning, that there is no fraud involved, and the parties involved do not have actual knowledge of the outcome of the bet (unless they have disclosed this knowledge).[16] Gambling has often been seen as having social consequences, as satirized by Balzac. For these social and religious reasons, most legal jurisdictions limit gambling, as advocated by Pascal.[17] as long as the following conditions are met; the gambler can afford losing the bet, stops when the limit is reached, and the motivation is entertainment and not personal gain leading to the “love of money”[18] or making a living.[19] In general, Catholic bishops have opposed casino gambling on the grounds it too often tempts people into problem gambling or addiction, has particularly negative effects on poor people; they sometimes also cite secondary effects such as increases in loan sharking, prostitution, corruption, and general public immorality.[20][21][22] Some parish pastors have also opposed casinos for the additional reason that they would take customers away from church bingo and annual festivals where games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker are used for fundraising.[23]

Gambling views among Protestants vary with some either discouraging or forbidding their members from participation in gambling.

Methodists, in accordance with the doctrine of outward holiness, oppose gambling which they believe gambling is a sin that feeds on greed; examples include the United Methodist Church,[24] the Free Methodist Church,[25] the Evangelical Wesleyan Church,[26] the Salvation Army,[27] and the Church of the Nazarene.[28]

Other Protestants that oppose gambling include many Mennonites, Quakers,[29] the Christian Reformed Church in North America,[30], the Church of the Lutheran Confession,[31] the Southern Baptist Convention,[32] the Assemblies of God,[33] and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Other churches that oppose gambling include the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[34] the Iglesia Ni Cristo,[35] and the Members Church of God International.

Islam
Although different interpretations of Shari‘ah (Islamic Law) exist in the Muslim world, there is a consensus among the ‘Ulema’ (Arabic: عُـلـمـاء‎, Scholars (of Islam)) that gambling is haraam (Arabic: حَـرام‎, sinful or forbidden). In assertions made during its prohibition, Muslim jurists describe gambling as being both un-Qur’anic, and as being generally harmful to the Muslim Ummah (Arabic: أُمَّـة‎, Community). The Arabic terminology for gambling is Maisir.[36]

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: ‘In them both lies grave sin, though some benefit, to mankind. But their sin is more grave than their benefit.’

— Qur’an, 2:219 (al-Baqara)[37]
In parts of the world that implement full Shari‘ah, such as Aceh, punishments for Muslim gamblers can range up to 12 lashes or a one-year prison term and a fine for those who provide a venue for such practises.[38] Some Islamic nations prohibit gambling; most other countries regulate it