Betting, also known as gambling, is an industry that brings in over $60 billion annually and attracts all kinds of people, regardless of their profession, financial standing or ethnic backgrounds. The United States Government has authorized many forms of betting, from horse racing to bingo games. The betting industry provides employment to over 200,000 people and provides large tax revenues to local governments.
The last 30 years has seen public perception about betting change from a vice to a widely accepted sport. Legal betting activities include state lotteries, horse and greyhound racing, card games, bingo games, slot machines and poker. Betting is heavily regulated due to concerns of criminal involvement. Illegal betting exists and flourishes on many accounts, creating a parallel economy estimated at over $200 billion.
There are four major types of legal betting in the United States. These include charitable gambling, wagering, lotteries and casino gaming. Charitable gambling is conducted for the benefit of nonprofit organizations. Bingo is the most common type of betting in this category. It is legalized in all but five states in the US. It is the only charitable game that is legal in California.
Horse racing is classified as a form of Parimutuel wagering. Parimutuel wagering refers to types of gambling where the total prize pool is based upon the amount of money wagered. The prize money increases with the amount of money being betted. Horse racing is the only form of Parimutuel wagering legalized in California. Dog racing or greyhound racing operates legally in 17 states.
Lottery is a traditional form of betting in the United States. An interim ban was in effect between 1894 and 1964. The New Hampshire Sweepstakes on March 12, 1964 was the first legal lottery in the twentieth century. Other states quickly followed in legalizing lotteries. Lotteries operate in 37 states of the US and the District of Columbia.
Casino gaming forms the largest part of the commercial gambling market. Its ever-increasing popularity has fueled the opening of parlors throughout the country. For almost 50 years, casino gaming was legal only in Nevada. It is currently legal in 10 states.
Currently in the United States, 48 of the 50 states have legalized some form of gambling or the other. Utah and Hawaii are the exceptions. Betting is a form of recreation for many, but may also become an addiction. This is the reason why many people consider “gambling” to be a social evil.
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