Kentucky Derby 2013: Should Gambling Be Illegal?


Gambling is the process whereby you stake money in order to gain more. In order to be successful at making money by way of gambling, one has to distinguish between need and greed. Gambling blurs that line. It can lead you to losing great amounts of money influenced by the greed of gaining more. Excessive gambling can lead to crime. It gives rise to ill practices that can transcend your family and social life. Is making gambling illegal a good solution to preventing its ill effects?

Gambling is meant to serve as recreation, but then again so are sex, drugs, and alcohol. People engage in gambling activities mostly for the mirage of easy money. However, gambling except for the few blessed with self-control turns out to be a money loser and a waste of quality-time.

Gambling can lead people to crime. Those addicted to gambling fail to think wisely before taking any decisions in life. Their addiction leads them to a stage where they cannot stop themselves from betting money and valuables, in turn leading them to ruin. The same applies to drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Making gambling illegal cannot solve this problem just as prohibition did not solve alcoholism and the war on drugs is not solving drug addiction, nor, for that matter, is the vice squad stopping prostitution.

In fact, we are such a two faced society that we created that gambling safe haven of Las Vegas to satisfy our government’s greed fix and at the same time satisfy that puritanical urge we brought over with the Mayflower.

We have eons of proof that prohibition, did not, does not, and will never work. So why bother making gambling, of all vices, illegal when we have done nothing but expand the safe havens from Las Vegas to New Jersey to Indian reservations? Because our society is littered with narrow-minded fascist bigots that would like to tell you how to live your life. While professing theirs as immaculate only to be exposed imbibing in crack and gay prostitute love like Pastor Ted Haggard.

Getting back on the track, no pun intended, gambling, unlike the trick headline that hoodwinked you should be legal. Setting aside all the BS reasons regarding weak minded people, let’s face it, if it’s not gambling it will be some other form of “addiction” that will be their demise.

Setting aside traditional gambling in a brick and mortar environment, or horse track like the Kentucky Derby, let us take a moment and delve into the future, online gambling. All forms of gambling are now available online; poker, casino games like blackjack and roulette, and sports from 300 horsepower Nascar to one horsepower Kentucky Derby. To give you an idea of the kind of money involved in horseracing alone, consider that it is the second most widely attended U.S. spectator sport, after baseball. In 1989, 56,194,565 people attended 8,004 days of racing, wagering $9.14 billion. Today, horseracing is a global sport often spanning three diverse sectors; sport, betting, and the rural economy. More than 200 million racing fans worldwide attend events and over $100 billion are gambled on races each year. Take note that 90% of the wagers occur in OTB parlors as attendance at the track per se is limited by the size of the venue.

OTB Off Track Betting

Off Track Betting, or OTB, means sanctioned wagering on horse, harness, or greyhound racing outside of a racetrack.

By far the most popular form of the sport is the racing of mounted thoroughbred horses over flat courses at distances from three-quarters of a mile to two miles. Other major forms of horseracing are harness racing, steeplechase racing, and quarter horse racing.

OTB is growing in popularity throughout the United States. OTB facilities offer an alternative to wagering at racetracks. Moreover, like betting done at tracks, states receive a portion of the pari-mutuel handle, or take.

The advent of the internet has given a completely new meaning to OTB. Many observers say that Off Track Betting is fast becoming Online Track Betting. Online race books like bring betting on your favorite thoroughbred, harness, greyhound racing, and jai alai events in the comforts of home.

Horseracing continues to be one of the popular spectator sports in America. However, in its early beginnings, horseracing was a sport that was enjoyed and wagered on mostly by the upper class. After the Civil War, horseracing tracks opened throughout the east coast paving the way for bettors from all economic sectors to enjoy the thrill of the past-paced action.

In the Early days of horseracing, many enterprising bookmakers started "auction pools," which involved auctioning off bets for each horse in a race. However, this format was short lived because bettors were out of luck if the horse that they wanted to wager on was already taken.

The bookies, known for being innovative, soon realized that setting odds on individual horses would increase betting handle and, in turn, the bookie's hold.

When there was overwhelming money on one horse, the bookmaker would simply lower the odds to increase the attractiveness of other horses in the race. This format is still in use today.

By the 1920s, there were more than 300 racetracks in the U.S. in addition to thousands of "pool halls," or off-track betting facilities, which were connected to the tracks by telegraph wires. Here locals could place their bets on horses at a multitude of racing venues around the country.

Illinois was the first state to permit racetracks to own and operate OTB facilities. Balmoral opened Illinois' first OTB parlor, located at Peoria, on September 8, 1987.

The Pari-mutuel System

Pari-mutuel betting (French for mutual betting) is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and a house take are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all placed bets.

The pari-mutuel system was invented by Parisian perfume maker Pierre Oller in 1865 when asked by a bookmaker friend to devise a fair system for bettors, which guarantees a fixed profit for the bookmaker.

The large amount of calculation involved in this system led to the invention of a specialized mechanical calculating machine known as a totalisator, "automatic totalisator" or "tote board." The first was installed at Ellerslie Racecouse in Auckland, New Zealand on 1913. Since then totalisators came into widespread use at racecourses throughout the world. The first totalisator in the U.S. was installed at Arlington Park, near Chicago, Illinois, in 1933.

The pari-mutuel system is used in gambling on horseracing, greyhound racing, jai alai, and all sporting events of relatively short duration in which participants finish in a ranked order. A modified pari-mutuel system is also used in some lottery games such as Lotto South.

Pari-mutuel gambling is frequently state-regulated, and offered in many places where gambling is otherwise illegal. Pari-mutuel gambling is often also offered at OTB facilities, where players may bet on the events without actually being present to observe them in person.

Pari-mutuel betting differs from fixed odds betting in that the final payout is not determined until the pool is closed — in fixed odds betting, the payout is agreed at the time the bet is sold.

In order to make gambling illegal one would need to take on the government and the mob although the distinction between the two is at times blurred, those are your nemeses if you want to make gambling illegal. To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, “do you feel lucky, punk?"