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A Rake’s Progress: The Changing Face of Gambling

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The face of gambling has changed drastically throughout the past century; thankfully for the better.

The reputation surrounding the act of gambling has had its fair share of negativity throughout history, and for some even now it is still looked upon as a sinful activity. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of reading Hunter S. Thompsons classic novel ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, you’ll have a good idea of how Las Vegas, and by extension the gambling scene as a whole, has publicly been perceived in years gone by. However, for the most part, the stigma around gambling has disappeared for good.

From early days in dark hidden rooms, to becoming popular worldwide televised sporting events; we’ve taken a look at how the face of gambling and the opinions of chancing your luck have developed over time.

A Rake’s Progress: William Hogarth

The word ‘rake’ is a historic term used to refer to a man whom is habituated to immoral conduct and of poor character; typical behavior from such an individual would be to waste their, usually inherited, fortunes on women, wine and gambling. Such people were often associated with gambling, and no doubt furthered the idea that those where the only ones who enjoyed forms of gaming as hobby.

A series of paintings produced in 1733 by artist William Hogarth, tell the very typical story of a young rake named Tom Rakewell. He is a young man who upon inheriting his father’s wealth follows a path of vice, alcohol and excessive wagering and betting. Naturally, the series comes as a warning to any who may follow in his path; young Tom ends up penniless, in prison, ultimately spending his final days in an insane asylum. Tom had it bad, and his lifestyle of gambling and recklessness was to blame.

This is pretty much how the majority of people viewed gambling for quite some time, it almost always went hand-in-hand with vulgarity and dishonesty; generally it was thought of as being an inherently bad thing to do.

Drugs, Maniacs and Card Games

Fast forward about 200 years, and gambling laws in America have just went under a significant change; commercial casinos are legally permitted in the now famous city of Las Vega, Nevada, which is about to become the gamblers Mecca.

Top Gambling Destinations

•Las Vegas, Nevada

•Atlantic City, New Jersey

•Macau, People’s Republic of China

•London, England

The plot of Thompsons ‘Fear and Loathing’ depicts the general goings-on which were occurring in Vegas around 30 years later, 1960-1970, in a somewhat surreal and exaggerated manner; none-the-less, he accurately gives a good indication of people’s perceptions of gambling at the time.

The city, and presumably the entire gambling society, is saturated with poisonous people, fuelled on cocktails of hard drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and insanity. Morals have disappeared, and although Vegas’ is known around the world, it’s for all the wrong reasons. Gambling is still shining in a negative light, despite the glamour and glitz often attributed to Las Vegas.

Opinions at this point were different from in Rakewell’s time, but they were still generally unfavorable to the masses, sometimes deemed downright terrifying. Although some people, myself included, think Thompsons tale sounds like an utterly brilliant time – for the most part.

Modern Views

Here’s where things begin to brighten up for gambling, finally. Around the late 1970’s a poker tournament started, aptly named The World Series of Poker, which to this day continues to grow massively in popularity; it’s even broadcast on TV internationally. It’s been know to attract thousands to the main event table.

Attractions like this have changed the face of gambling, making it more appealing and more accessible than ever before. The range of people that all partake in betting or a casino game has increased massively, all creeds enjoy a bit of gambling these days. The reputation has been broken. Some even consider gambling a sport, and there has been numerous people claiming that poker and other games should be recognized globally as sporting contests; a far way off of the small betting rooms which were once the height of gambling activities.

Betting is constantly becoming more and more infused with everyday life; mobile casinos and internet gambling sites are frequented by a significant portion of the world’s population, and with ever improving technology the accessibility to gambling increases alongside its popularity.

Casino operators can crop up in gambling news these days for their charitable contributions and even in some cases, environmental work. It seems that gambling is becoming more integrated in modern societies, and a positive attitude is coming along with it. People now tend to see gambling as fun; Vegas’ is now one of the top tourist destinations worldwide, attracting gambling fans from all over the globe. People who don’t even usually gamble tend to go just to catch a glimpse of the extravagant lifestyle.

Casino development continues in multiple countries, and there are an ever growing number of institutions where one can enjoy their favorite games. It’s safe to say the face go gambling has changed, no longer is it a pock-marked, beaten old mask but now the face of success and celebrity status. Hell, numerous famous personalities and literally the faces of gambling organizations.

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