Gambling is probably one of the most controversial yet popular pastimes there is. While many people enjoy gambling, a lot also (especially conservatives) are openly showing their disapproval of this type of entertainment. In fact, gambling is still illegal in many countries for a few reasons: culture, morality, and religion.
That’s the reason why gambling has always been considered taboo… but is that still the case today?
The new face of gambling
Hearing just the words “casino” or “gambling” before will already give people negative connotations. They would picture a wasted adult addicted to gambling, trying hard to get his money back and be trapped in a vicious cycle. That’s normal, though, as many stories are widely talked about regarding businessmen who lost a lot of money due to gambling addiction. These days, however, people seem to become open-minded about gambling, and they no longer look at it negatively.
For example, in most countries where gambling is already legalized, casinos are no longer just for gamblers. Casinos are also used as a reception for weddings, birthdays, and other big occasions. Hotels and malls now even have casinos in them.
Not just that, casinos have now expanded their markets to cater those who prefer online. In fact, online gaming has spiked due to the Covid-19 pandemic where people are forced to stay at home and access entertainment online. Research shows that the online gambling market worldwide will continue to grow from $64 billion in 2020 to $72 billion in 2021 with a 12.3% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). The market is expected to continuously grow and reach $112.09 billion by 2025, with a 12% CAGR.
It’s also noticeable that portrayals of gambling in the media are now slowly improving. Even in films, filmmakers even produce stories based on the world of gambling, such as Molly’s Game (2017), 21 (2008), and Lucky You (2007).
On TV, sports betting is now openly talked about where such a topic has been a taboo before. Announcers before didn’t usually discuss betting more than a nod or a wink. Now, sportscasters have the confidence to discuss sports betting, such as when Charles Barkley openly discussed betting odds before and after the NBA games on TNT’s popular TV program “Inside the NBA”.
Moreover, many sports channels now even feature ads from USA’s leading sportsbooks. Channels like ESPN and CBS have also launched sports betting TV shows dedicated to gamblers.
What do statistics say?
The gambling statistics project that some 26% of the world’s population gambles. That means to say, roughly 1.6 billion people globally are gambling while some 4.2 billion said they gamble at least once a year. Meanwhile, about 17% of the population says they gamble online, thereby generating revenue of £5.3 billion for the online market alone.
Statistics say that in 2019, the estimated market size of the gambling industry (both from a casino and online gambling) rose from $248.3 billion in 2018 to $262 billion. It was predicted to continuously increase in the following years until the Covid-19 pandemic came and significantly dipped its share by 13.4 percent to $226.81 billion in 2020. However, given the relaxing lockdown restrictions and the availability of online betting, the market recovered and spiked to $266.66 billion – and it’s still 2021.
For many countries where the gambling industry is allowed to operate, it contributes a significant share of their gross income. For instance, among the world’s top casino countries and continents include the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Italy where they enjoyed a significantly high amount of gross winnings of $113.65 billion, $47.27 billion, and 21.47 billion, respectively.
However, while gambling is already legal in many countries, a long list still doesn’t take it as something acceptable to their culture that’s why many still consider gambling a taboo.
Countries where gambling is illegal
Despite being hugely profitable, one of the counter-arguments when it comes to the legislation of gambling is the risks it poses to people’s behaviors. That’s why some governments needed to weigh their options and choose between gambling’s benefit as a good source of income and protecting the welfare of their citizens. Most countries chose the latter and some even have stiff penalties to those who break the law.
Some of the countries where gambling is illegal include the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Cambodia, North Korea, Japan, Singapore, Cyprus, Qatar, Lebanon, and Poland. It’s also worth noting that most of the countries that prohibit gambling are usually highly religious nations.
Is gambling still a taboo?
To answer this question, it would depend on which cultural and religious perspective you’ll consider. Clearly, a lot more still have prejudices against the act despite having a huge chunk of the population that is already gambling (not to mention those who don’t gamble but see nothing wrong with it).
Gambling may already be accepted in some parts of the world, the others still don’t. But that won’t change the fact that the industry is now slowly able to reach more people.