Gambling's Social Stigma

Gambling's Social Stigma

Social scientists try to answer the question: Why does gambling have a social stigma?

Like it or not, gambling is still not considered 100% socially acceptable, despite the fact that most of us engage in it in some way or another. 

Social stigma 

Social scientists can sit and puzzle out the reasons, but there's no doubt about it, gambling has acquired a bad press. The veteran gambler is seen as edgy, nervous, untrustworthy, and constantly on the verge of taking too many risks. This view is strange considering the fact that gambling in other forms is an essential human activity. 

A poor fit with an outdated image 

One of the main reasons for the poor image that gambling appears to have is the American dream of husband, wife, and 2.2 children. This picture was promoted so hard by governments following World War II that it's proving hard to shed 60 years later. While few families can afford to live on the income of one wage earner, the American ideal persists, and any divergence from that image is considered a betrayal of the cause. 

Risk and the American ideal 

Risk is seen as the antithesis of the hard-working Joe who goes to work at 8 am, returning home at 6 with an empty lunch box. Heaven help Joe should he stop off at the track to bet on a horse or waste any of the family's cash on lottery tickets. In the past, this type of behavior was considered unbalanced and inconsiderate. Taking risk is essentially the devil in disguise and should be frowned upon by any blue collar working man who has the interests of his family at heart. 

We're all guilty 

The real picture is quite different. In effect, modern 21st century man gambles all the time. He plays the stock market and hopes that the value of his house will rise over time. This type of behavior is no different to the casino gambler or daily lottery player. Risk taking is part of our modern life. We all break the speed limit, taking the chance that we won't get photographed by the speed cameras. We smoke and drink when we know we're essentially gambling with our health and our lives. We spend too much thinking that we'll be able to cut the budget next month, or hope for an early raise from the boss. 

Gambling is part of daily human activity, and the stigma surrounding gambling as an activity is likely to wane with the passing of the years. 

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