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Is it moral to run a gambling house?

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Hi,

I understand that gambling is under the same circumstances of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol... it's a matter of personal responsibilty only.

But is it moral to be the owner of a gambling house, as it is moral to be the owner of a cigarette factory? Gambling is not productive in the proper sense, is it?

Thanks for an answer. Bye!

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But is it moral to be the owner of a gambling house, as it is moral to be the owner of a cigarette factory? Gambling is not productive in the proper sense, is it?

Sure it is. Gambling can rationally be engaged in as a form of entertainment.

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The problem with this and cigarettes and alcohol are generally that they may become uncontrollable much quicker than one would expect, beyond the idea that they are removing you from reality. As a form of recreation they are some of the most expensive ones and in my opinion not entirely worth it except under extreme moderation.

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I understand that gambling is under the same circumstances of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol... it's a matter of personal responsibilty only.

True.

Owning a casino or something similar isn't productive. But it's entertainment. Expensive, but still entertainment. It cannot be productive because the owner of a casino can only profit if his customers are losing. And vice versa.

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Owning a casino or something similar isn't productive. But it's entertainment. Expensive, but still entertainment.

What's "not productive" about providing people with entertainment? In that respect, I don't see the difference between running a casino or running a theater, amusement park, sports stadium, etc.

It cannot be productive because the owner of a casino can only profit if his customers are losing. And vice versa.

So? The owner of any business can only profit if his customers pay him more money than what it costs him to do business.

Any trade depends on people having different values. BOTH parties to a rational trade exchange what is worth less, to them, for what is worth more, to them.

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What's "not productive" about providing people with entertainment?  In that respect, I don't see the difference between running a casino or running a theater, amusement park, sports stadium, etc.

Hold on. I think an entirely new perspective on gambling is being unfolded before my eyes. (no sarcasm here)

I guess my error was that I was looking at gambling from winning/losing perspective, meaning you actually invest in gambling and hopefully you win something. What you pay for, actually is the fun it offers.

My error is in my thinking that you come to a casino, spend a lot of money and walk out empty handed, without acquiring any tangible value. Anyway, things are a little clearer now.

So?  The owner of any business can only profit if his customers pay him more money than what it costs him to do business.

Yes. Usually the customer gets some tangible value in return. Seems like I've been looking at theatres and a casino with double standards.

Thanks for helping clear this up a little.

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Sure it is.  Gambling can rationally be engaged in as a form of entertainment.

This is not to say that gambling is necessarily immoral, but I have never been able to understand its appeal. Maybe there is some social aspect I am missing out on (if so, I didn’t see it in Vegas) but I find nothing pleasurable in finding elaborate ways to part with my money. I actually enjoy betting with friends – but only when the odds are in my favor.

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This is not to say that gambling is necessarily immoral, but I have never been able to understand its appeal.  Maybe there is some social aspect I am missing out on (if so, I didn’t see it in Vegas) but I find nothing pleasurable in finding elaborate ways to part with my money.  I actually enjoy betting with friends – but only when the odds are in my favor.

Some people pay money to ride a rollercoaster at an amusement park. The excitement is worth the money they pay and standing on line for an hour. Some people like the excitement of betting on casino games or sporting events or bingo or their weekly poker game with friends. They are willing to lose money up to a certain point, because the excitement (of possibly winning) is worth it.

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When Rand speaks of acceptance of the unearned in matter, could that be used to make a case against gambling? Would there be any difference between a gambler that does it for entertainment and prefers to win, but if they lose it is no large matter since it was the entertainment they sought not the money, and one that is in it to win the money? I consider the latter to be seeking the unearned in matter (money). I am concerened that 'entertainment' could be perverted to justify all kinds of actions.

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Would there be any difference between a gambler that does it for entertainment and prefers to win, but if they lose it is no large matter since it was the entertainment they sought not the money, and one that is in it to win the money?

Certainly. Gambling is perfectly fine as a form of entertainment or social event, suited mainly for wealthy people who do not mind the risk of losing larger sums of money. It is an expression of your pride in being able to afford such a risk, an exercise in staying cool while substantial amounts are at stake, and a way of learning to accept losses and to celebrate gains.

On the other hand, poor people who effectively build their carreers on gambling in the irrational hope that "Lady Luck will smile on them someday" are an example of the pathetic small-mindedness of those who have no confidence in their abilities. To hope to obtain wealth by luck is to declare that you are incapable of creating wealth by using your mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I like poker. In my opinion, poker isn't gambling in the same sense as are many other games of "chance". Good cards help, but they aren't always needed to win.

In craps, roulette, slots, etc. you roll away your fate with no more control than when to walk away from the game.

In poker however, the best hand at the table need not be the hand that has the best cards. It is truly a competition of individuals. As CF said, staying cool in the face of potential substantial loss is very important. Poker is a game of character and personality.

Clearly one must be cognizant of how much one can afford to lose, and have the discipline to walk away from the table when or before you reach that point.

But as Kenny Rogers said, "Every hands a winner, and every hands a loser..." While that may not quite be a truism of poker, it's pretty damn close.

Deal me in boys.... :nerd:

VES

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I largely agree with this: http://leader.linkexchange.com/X1654284/showiframe?

 

Gambling is putting your money at risk in the hopes of earning a return, but with no rational basis.

State lotteries are a perfect example of pure gambling. You know that the odds are stacked against you, because only about half of the money contributed is paid out to the winners (the rest is the "house take"). And there's no possible way you can apply any knowledge or skill to make your odds any better. But you buy a ticket anyway because you just hope you'll win -- and perhaps you tell yourself that the worst thing that can happen is you'll lose a dollar, while you might win millions.

Poker, on the other hand, isn't gambling. If you're a skilled player, poker is investing because you put money at risk with the rational expectation of earning a return. Even if you're an unskilled player, the possibility of becoming skilled through study or experience is always an option for you. If you choose to remain unskilled and play anyway, then you treat poker as gambling -- but that doesn't make the game itself into a gambling game.

etc

I would certainly not look down on someone because he earned his wealth by playing poker, as opposed to running a business, and I would also say that he has earned his wealth equally. However, I would obviously not think that someone who had won $10 million in a lottery (or inherited it from a dead relative) had earned this money. The key difference is the use of skill. Anything that you are able to procure through (non-immoral) use of your skill and talent has been earned, regardless of whether this skill is related to poker, chess, computer programming, business management, or basketball.

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This is not to say that gambling is necessarily immoral, but I have never been able to understand its appeal.

Nevada casinos are filled with slot machines, because they DO pay out money. People DO win money. People know that they have a chance of winning a jackpot. And it is exciting to win.

It is the short-and-sweet version of recreating real success. Now, some people go overboard and dump a lot of money down the drain, trying to win the jackpot. But, I think most people go with a set sum that they are willing to bet, to try to win that jackpot. Or, just win something.

Others go to sit on their butts and watch wheels spin around for hours. There is something to that which disturbs me. What is exciting about wheels spinning around? It's not exactly a novelty, unless it is your first time in Vegas.

Gambling is exciting to some, but I don't think that is the rational reason to continue gambling. That is purely emotional. You want to win the money. But a rational person doesn't throw his life away trying to do so. It's kind of like a little risk you are making with your money. An investment. A chance.

It's like going to a carnival and trying to knock down the bottles with the ball. You want to win the stuffed animal for your girlfriend, right? After all, you've thrown a ball before, and it's not especially exciting.

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However, I would obviously not think that someone who had won $10 million in a lottery (or inherited it from a dead relative) had earned this money. The key difference is the use of skill.

I think he earned it. He engaged in a risk-taking adventure. Someone is giving him odds on winning a prize, and he is taking that bet. If he can make money from the use of his own money, then he earned it. Nobody else is entitled to it.

It may take slightly more skill to play poker than to play the slots or lottery, but your odds of winning at poker in a casino are very comparable to winning at slots. You have to be a very good poker player to succeed at that game.

Your best odds are at blackjack, craps, and roulette.

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It may take slightly more skill to play poker than to play the slots or lottery, but your odds of winning at poker in a casino are very comparable to winning at slots. You have to be a very good poker player to succeed at that game.

What do you mean 'slightly more skill'? Zero remains zero, regardless of what you multiply it by.

Winning (consistently) at poker requires very large amounts of skill, whereas winning on a lottery requires none whatsoever. I'm not sure how poker works in a casino, but if it were set up in a way when the odds were significantly against your winning and it became a game of pure luck, I wouldnt say that money from that was 'earned' either.

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I'm not sure how poker works in a casino, but if it were set up in a way when the odds were significantly against your winning and it became a game of pure luck, I wouldnt say that money from that was 'earned' either.

So, do people who play video poker "earn" their winnings?

It takes about five minutes to explain the basic rules of poker to a child. I don't consider poker to be a game requiring much skill to merely play. When you get to the pro-level, it becomes a matter of counting cards, bluffing, reading your opponent, etc. Not a matter of understanding the rules better.

To be clear, I don't disagree that poker takes more skill to play than slots. But skill is not what determines whether you've earned something. You've earned something if you put in the effort to gain it (without using force on someone, of course). It doesn't matter what kind of effort was required, or how hard it was to acquire. It simply matters that YOU were the one who made the effort. Therefore, you deserve the result of your effort.

That could probably be worded better. But, I think the point is clear.

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I'm negative about gambling in general. Most people I encounter gamble out of an irrational quest to get rich without creating value by their minds, being productive, etc. My high school girlfriend's father spent all his money on the lottery and chose his lottery numbers every week by throwing darts. This is the behavior of a primitive savage. Certainly Betsy, Vern, et al, are correct that free, rational men are entitled to diversions, but the literally-interpreted concept of gambling surely has its roots in wishes and mysticism.

This keeps me from gambling in life. If I'm to be a millionaire, it won't be from the lottery or a casino. My statements above are, I think, in line with Ayn Rand's statement in the Romantic Manifesto that one should "judge, and prepare to be judged."

As to the original question "is it moral to own a casino" (not a direct quote), it certainly IS...so long as the participants are not made to gamble by force or by fraud.

George

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So, do people who play video poker "earn" their winnings?

Playing video poker does not compare well to playing against people. I'm not really concerned with whether I'm "earning" at the game or not. I've walked out a loser before and had just as much fun as when I walked out a winner. It's a competition of skill and guts. Rational people find many ways to risk or exchange one value for the value that entertainment or competition provides them (as was discussed before when the idea of dangerous sports came up in a different thread). The level of skill involved is different obviously, but the value risked is also different.

It takes about five minutes to explain the basic rules of poker to a child.

It doesn't take much longer to teach children the rules to chess. Chess has simple rules as well. Now, I'm not suggesting the poker is as complex as chess on an analytical scale, but knowing the rules of poker doesn't mean one knows how to play poker. The simplicity of the rules doesn't necessarily establish the skill level involved. There is definitely something about being able to evaluate your opponents in poker that requires some skill or experience.

But I agree that wishing for cards, and getting in over your head are downfalls to enjoyable poker. Calculated risks and understanding your opponents wins more often than blind luck in the long haul.

VES

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  • 1 month later...
As to the original question "is it moral to own a casino" (not a direct quote), it certainly IS...so long as the participants are not made to gamble by force or by fraud.

I agree. In my view, a person has to know her chances, meaning that she must know the probabilties of winning at slots, or roulette, or anything else. In this case, shouldn't there be laws regarding adulteration of slots machines, for example, as fraud (the person is being lied about her odds of winning) is a kind of iniciation of force? Or should this be treated as general fraud, with no regulations regarding this specific subject?

Sorry about my english, I hope you can understand what I mean.

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Many casinos advertise they payoff rates of their slot machines. I have seen the figure 98% thrown around a lot. If a casino claimed this, and it turned out that the payoff was only say 20%, I think that would be a pretty clear cut case of fraud.

On the other hand, if they make no promise about the payoff or odds, then they could set them to whatever percentage they wanted.

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  • 3 years later...
owner is are always plan to earn more money only.they never worry about the customer.they plan only for there profit.

=============

kerry

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Is this a new form of English? Is there something wrong with planning for one's own profit? What? What does it mean to "worry about the customer" especially in the context of a gambling house?

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Rationally gambling is a form of entertainment. It differs from other forms, such as the movies, in that the customer has a monetary stake in the outcome. This is a very big difference because money is such a powerful tool.

The way casino games are set up the house always has a statistical advantage. The purpose should be obvious, it assures that the house makes money (if the management can draw enough customers, keep its costs in line, etc; in that sense gambling is no different than the movies). But there is another implication: customers have a statistical disadvantage. if the house makes money that means the customers pay money.

The house advantage does not mean that a customer cannot get a large payoff from the house if he wins, but that he is very unlikely to do so. Of course there are exceptions. There are games where skill can overcome the statistical advantage. In Blackjack, for example, it is possible to determine the odds of winning for any given hand (card counting). This is not easy to do in one's head, and casinos quite sensibly ban aids such as calculators, PDAs and such. But someone skilled at card counting can win more often than he looses.

Roulette may seem entirely random, but it isn't. The action of the roulette wheel and the ball are governed by well known laws of physics. Therefore it is possible to determine the frequency and odds that the ball will land on a given quadrant. This takes a large effort and knowledge of physics and math. It is also possible to plot the biases of a given wheel, and thus determine the numbers with higher odds. This also requires a great deal of effort, not to mention hours of observation. And the results are valid for one particular wheel only.

There can also be a measure of control in craps. Again, it's not easy, but it is possible to throw the dice in such a way that they will favor the customer more often than the house (it's complicated, involving tiny details from arranging the dice in one's hands, throwing with measured force each time, throwing in a certain direction, etc). This requires learning the necessary skills, and perfecting them with many hours of practice.

Poker, as has been stated, is not quite a game of chance alone. Essentially one can win at poker by claiming that one can do so, if the other players believe it. I've won pots with low pairs, and even with nothing at all by running an effective bluff. I've also lost hands the same way. And in the end a straight flush beats three aces regardless of how and why the bets are placed.

Now, do games of chance require monetary stakes? One does not gamble on movies, after all, or books, and one does not necessarily gamble in sports, either, yet one can enjoy such diversions tremendously.

Speaking for myself, I do not enjoy poker unless there are some stakes involved. It doesn't have to be money, but it usually is. When using chips as markers without any value, it's simply not possible to take them seriously and bets become meaningless. Bets are essential in poker. A player bets on the strength of his hand, or to bluff. But if the chips are just bits of plastic, the bet says nothing.

I don't have to play for high stakes, either. When I played regularly with friends, we agreed to limit betting to $3 lots per night per player. The chips represented quantities from one penny to 25 cents. One time we played for a jacket we'd got free at a computer expo. Then the chips were markers without definite value, but they added to the prize, therefore the bets retained meaning. The winner was whoever won all the other players' chips, or whoever had the most chips when we decided to call it a night.

That's poker. Other games are different. I've played blackjack only against computer programs. There are no stakes involved and I get tired of playing in short order. I'd need to play for money, or prizes, in order to see whether that makes the game more enjoyable or not. I suspect it would. While betting is different than in poker, the risk is not. So when I hit on 19 against the computer, I do so largely because I've nothing to loose.

On the other hand I enjoy sports less when I bet on them. It's easy to see why. I have a favorite team, the Steelers, a team I hate, the Cowboys, teams I like, teams I dislike and teams I've no feelings for. Therefore I already have some emotional investment in most games. I also enjoy the game for it's own sake, so I can enjoy watching, say, the Cardinals vs the Eagles even if I don't care who wins. If I bet on a game I may wind up rooting for a team I would rather see loose. Why, I might find myself rooting for the Cowboys against the Steelers, and that is just unbearable.

Once I entered an office pool concerning the World Cup. I even won. It failed to make soccer interesting at all. Although I was interested in the results, I still wasn't interested in the game. How did I win betting in a sport I don't like and about which I know little? Luck, I suppose. It's not likely I'll ever win again, therefore I've not entered in any other office pools for soccer.

One more thing. Since gambling is entertainment, one should approach it as such. The proper way is this: how much am I willing to spend in this particular form of entertainment? Not risk, and certainly not invest. Spend. If you win some money, well and good. If you win a lot of money, that's great. But the expectation, and the highest probability, is that you will spend money in exchange for entertainment; not that you will be set for life, or break the bank, or own the casino before you're finished honing your blackjack skills.

To be sure it's pleasant to day-dream about breaking the bank or winning millions of dollars. And as long as it's just a pleasant day-dream to while away the time waiting for your flight to Vegas, that's fine. But keep this in mind, there is one way that guarantees you'll leave Vegas with small fortune. The way is to go in with a large fortune.

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I think the original question was in regard to ownership of a gambling house. This is of particular interest to me because an old friend of mine currently does not work. Instead, he earns his income under the table because he runs an illegal poker game and collects a rake from players. My advice to him was that what he is doing is not immoral, but it isn't rational either. My argument was that due to the illegality of his 'profession', he doesn't really stand to benefit long-term from his actions. (Not to mention he isn't getting Social Security benefits ;).) However, that was about 3 years ago when I told him that and he is still running the game with sucess (makes roughly 2-3 thousand a week and doesn't pay any taxes). The only thing is he has to move his game once every month or two, when neighbors catch on and call the police.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Regarding the gambling part: If someone says that "the satisfaction i get from just having the million to one chance to win every week, is worth the dollar i pay for my lottery ticket every week. It doesnt matter whether i win, its the chance of winning and the relaxation and fun i pay the dollar for" then the thing that determines whether this is rational, is whether he ACTUALLY gets the satisfaction/relaxation he claims he gets. That is quite objective in nature. If he actually satisfies his needs of relaxation by paying this dollar, then yes, it is very rational to gamble. However, as the fact is in most cases, people do not actually get the satisfaction they were after, and it becomes an obsession where they go against their better judgement, and still play the lottery despite them knowing that they wont win and knowing they lose money they could have spent more wisely. I would even like to argue, that very few people can actually get the satisfaction they are after by playing the lottery. Maybe just the super-rich could get enough satisfaction from this type of "no-skill"-gambling, but there are better ways to do that than play the lottery.

If you are playing the lottery to become a millionaire, then clearly, you are irrational. There are better, rational ways to become a millionaire, and playing the lottery is actually counterproductive to becoming a millionaire. Therefore, clearly irrational.

The part about running a gambling house, i would say that if you are targeting it to irrational people, then yes, you are immoral. You are basing your life on the irrational, immoral acts of other people. It does not help your life one bit, that most people are irrational, and you would be much better off if all your clients would be rational and moral. Yes, you wouldnt be running a gambling house, but you would be able to live your life better, as you would be surrounded by people whose minds can be of value to you. That would inevitably make you more wealthy.

However, there obviously is nothing that the government should do about people living off the immorality of others, but i guess that goes without saying on this forum

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Games like poker and blackjack are primarally game of skill not chance... so I see no reason why these should be considered immoral to run.

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