Assessing the Morality of Casinos and Bookmakers
As I sit here to write this, I know that not everyone will agree on the subject. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about gambling, alcohol, video games, sports, smoking, or any activity that we humans embrace (or not); we’re never all on the same page.
Opinions are formulated based on the way we look at the world through our own eyes. What’s acceptable to some is entirely on the forbidden list by others.
Religion, society, morals, geography, upbringing, politics, and past experiences shape our beliefs and what we consider to be acceptable.
In the United States, we have strict regulations on gambling, and in the United Kingdom, it’s heavily regulated but legally permissible both in person and online. Different rules apply and further shape our views.
So, I may be taking a controversial stance, but I don’t believe that casinos and bookmakers are immoral. Having declared that, though, I do want to add that I think there are disreputable people and businesses in nearly every industry.
It’s All About the People
One casino owner could have impeccable integrity and provide a top-notch gambling experience, and another one could be all about the money, with no regard to fairness or customer service.
But the same could hold true for a car salesperson. Bill could revel in the opportunity to share his knowledge and come up with great deals for his customers while still making a profit.
But Joe could be solely focused on padding his own wallet, saying whatever needs to be said to get the sale.
If someone is going to issue a blanket statement that all casinos and bookmakers are immoral, then where does that leave alcohol manufacturers, wineries, bars, restaurants, lounges, clubs, cigarette vendors, racecourses, and so many other businesses and services?
Maybe it’s time to evaluate individual actions rather than lump everything together and label it as good, bad, or even indecent or immoral.
The Story of a Bookmaker
I wrote an article about Bet365 last year. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a United Kingdom-based, family-owned company that provides an online sports betting service.
Unlike traditional gambling brands in the UK, like Ladbrokes or William Hill, it doesn’t have any High Street shops. Instead, it’s entirely web-based.
As I delved deeper into the family and the organization, I found out that the company is physically based on Stoke-on-Trent. It’s the largest private employer in the area, providing 3,000 people with jobs through the Bet365 Group. Bet365 also contributes £100 million to the local tax base.
In addition to those local contributions, the Bet365 Foundation was established by Denise Coates, its CEO, in 2012.
The Foundation is a charitable organization that promotes and helps to fund community programs, education, and medical research.
All of those benefits to the community are courtesy of Bet365’s sports betting and other gambling services.
On the one hand, you could take an anti-gambling stance and grumble about the way that the money was earned and the family that is profiting from it. But on the other hand, Bet365 is licensed and regulated. It offers fair odds and pays its winners.
I’m sure that it isn’t a perfect company, as there isn’t any business that doesn’t make mistakes or couldn’t benefit from improvements.
But if punters want to stake some money on their favorite team, can you imagine a better overall scenario if you’re looking beyond the service and including societal impact?
The Coates family has a right to make a living, and they make a very good one. But they also keep their business in their home country and allow others to benefit from the provision of jobs, the economic impact, and their various charitable contributions.
The Subject of Gambling
As I continue to write this, it seems like this issue all boils down to one thing and one thing only. Are you accepting of or in strict opposition to gambling as a whole?
The answer to that one question carries over into judgment of casinos and bookmakers being immoral or not.
Like it or leave it, gambling has been part of our global culture in some way, shape, or form for thousands of years. The earliest dice date back to 3,000 BC Mesopotamia. Playing cards have been in China since the 9th century, and lotto games and dominoes arrived in the 10th.
Even more modern-day games, like poker, are 17th-century developments.
If you look at the history of any area of the world, you’ll find something that translates over to some form of wagering.
Unless you’re in a small gambling-only establishment, many of today’s casinos are more like resorts.
More Than Gambling
In the leading Las Vegas casinos, you could almost consider gambling to be secondary if it’s not your first concern. There are many other things offered, including pools and water parks, amusement rides, and shopping.
Casinos have become hosts to some of the best dining around, employing celebrity chefs and providing guests with one-of-a-kind culinary experiences.
You can see top production shows, laugh at well-known comedians, and put your head down in a five-star hotel room.
And, yes, the casinos are still providing gambling opportunities.
Some of these top casinos have hundreds if not thousands of slot games alone. But there is a demand for these games.
For some people, it can go beyond a casual hobby. Others, though, enjoy going to a casino once or twice a year and practicing their skills at the blackjack table.
Slot players like to escape into the fantasy world of their games with fun bonus rounds and activities that steer your attention away from your daily to-do list to something more enjoyable and exciting.
Everyone knows that there’s a house edge, and the casino will reap the benefits, but there are winners, just as there are losers.
Gambling is a business, though, and its credibility and reputation depend on the people behind the scenes. One bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch.
If you’re on the fence about how you feel about gambling as a whole, then you hear about bookies or casinos that take advantage of problem gamblers or encourage people to bet beyond their means, it can solidify your position.
Verifications and Responsible Gaming
I have recently been paying more attention to responsible gaming practices of online gambling providers.
Virtual betting is so different than walking into an establishment. It’s readily available, primarily private, and plentiful. So, it’s more challenging to provide resources to players who do have a problem, even a minor one.
Verification procedures cut down on players trying to open new accounts with false names. The ability for players to take a break for a specified period or to limit their deposit activity is all beneficial. When it’s prominently posted, it’s even better.
A superior customer service department that helps to manage all of these issues and makes it easy for players to keep things in check is vital. It all gets wrapped up into the proper business model compared to the fly-by-night operators. There’s a vast difference.
Homework Is Needed
Licensing and regulatory agencies, like the UK Gambling Commission, do their part to weed out the disreputable and, some might say, immoral operators. They require licensing, fair gaming, and timely payments to players.
Regardless of their diligence, it’s also the responsibility of players to know their limits or to seek out assistance with problem gambling.
Even if overindulgence isn’t an issue, there is the matter of choosing the right bookmaker or casino. It’s up to players to look for licensing and research reputations and business practices.
With so many brick and mortar and online resources, it makes no sense to choose an unproven or poorly-rated service when there are so many others that do things the right way.
The bottom line for me, anyway, is that there are some “immoral,” for lack of a better word, casino and bookmaking service providers, but that’s not a blanket statement. It’s a personal verdict based on reports and observations that there are rogue betting services.
However, there are also those that are run by extremely reputable, kind, and compassionate people. Their area of expertise is casino or sportsbook operations, and they do their best to put out the best product they can.
Immoral is a harsh word that can be equated to corrupt, dishonest, or even morally wrong. It’s not up to me to declare anything morally unfit. But I do know that dishonesty has become even more prevalent since the internet has provided anonymity and resources that we never had previously.
All I can say is that it’s up to all of us to decide what’s right for us. No-one is forcing us to gamble if we don’t want to, and we’re basically free to spend our money however we choose.
For those of us who do decide to risk some money on casino gambling or sports betting, we must also make wise decisions on WHERE we risk that money.
We have options, and we should always consider the reputation of any organization we gamble with.