Based on your knowledge, how much of a role does legalized gambling play in the development of pathological gambling? Would banning gambling reduce the incidence of pathological gambling? Why or why not?
Legalized gambling is simply a money machine (yes, Minnie-Bruce Pratt!) profiting off of a common addictive trait in humans. The money machine of the gambling industry is a small cog in the financial machine that is THE United States (i.e, Colonialist born Capitalism). The gambling industry entices people to "use" its many products based on manipulative and deceiving advertising. An add for the lottery, for instance, might feature images that are pleasing to the senses - advertisers get people hooked on the good feeling (the euphoria) associated with positive images of the "easy life." Yes, while you're "Working on a Dream," it's the dream that has all the power over you. Advertisers use your dream to bring you to their product. They play on your human desire for as much individualistic pleasure as possible. The gambling industry also presents information in a manipulative way and plays off of a lack of analytical thinking that exists in the general population. It appeals to the believers, not the skeptics. And there are a lot more believers than skeptics in the U.S., or so it would seem based on the power of money machines like state lotteries. The money machines count on the likelihood that you will not test the logic, and will rather trust their words. They count on your blind trust in the good feelings that come with the "dream." The high of the dream in and of itself induces feelings of trust.
The odds are stacked against you and the playing field is not even in the gambling industry, but the industry execs -trust- in the gratification that people experience during the thrill of the game. The feeling that winning MIGHT be possible is an end in itself. If certain forms of gambling were made illegal, people who gamble would look for other sources of euphoria - other places in which get a sneak peek thrill chance at a dream. If all forms of gambling were made illegal, then people who get "high" off of gambling would seek alternative ways of getting high. There are many informal forms of gambling. A government cannot control all forms, so there will always be opportunities for gambling. I think it would be helpful for institutionalized gambling to be exposed and possibly eradicated, but you cannot stop the underground. You can't stop a bunch of friends from pooling their money together and placing bets on some sporting event. You cannot stop someone from creating their own illusion of a dream. You cannot eradicate all forms of gambling unless you are going to eliminate personal freedom and privacy. Legalized gambling just strengthens the power that gambling has over the general population. It makes people desensitized to it so that instead of approaching it with thoughtfulness and skepticism, they instead see it as a normal-and-acceptable part of society.
The popularization and normalization of gambling makes it harder to detect and prevent pathological gambling. It builds gambling into society in such a way that makes it extremely difficult for a pathological gambler to avoid triggers. A person who wants to lose weight might stop buying certain unhealthy foods at the grocery store but she cannot so easily avoid food advertisements that might entice her. A person who wants to stop gambling might avoid casinos but they might not be able to resist the urge to buy a lotto ticket when they check out at the store. The more infiltrated something (like gambling or like sugar and fat loaded food) become in a society, the harder it is for people to avoid the things that trigger their inclinations (addictions, if you want to call it that - I don't). Banning gambling might reduce the incidence of pathological gambling in the sense that it would make it a bit harder to go out and gamble. Sure, there will be other ways for the gambler to gamble...but it will require more effort and, therefore, be less likely to occur. I feel the same way about gun control. Sure, gun control won't stop everyone from obtaining a gun - BUT, it might put up a barrier for some people. Okay, maybe that wasn't the best example - I know the many sides of the gun control issue, and I don't wish to engage in debate about it. I think placing restrictions on gambling institutions would at least provide a filter between the money machine and the general public. Less manipulation would occur because it would face at least one barrier. A filter is a sort of stumbling block, kind of like a border to cross. I'm all for crossing borders (!), but it's probably best to stop for a moment and think about it before you start crossing.