Jhe 2022 Kentucky Derby has seen the biggest upset in over a century. Rich Strike came from behind to pass the two favorites on the home stretch, winning the race. Rich Strike wasn’t even supposed to be in the race, but a last-minute scratch brought the horse into the lineup. Rich Strike had odds of 80 to 1 to win.
The 2022 Kentucky Derby was the most bet race to date. ESPN reported that $179 million in bets were placed, an increase of 17% over last year. Ironically, the least money bet was on Rich Strike.
Since the turn of the 20th century, most gambling has been confined to casinos, back alleys and sleazy bookmakers. Yet over the past four years, gambling has become a much bigger part of mainstream America. It quickly becomes one of the most lucrative businesses in the country. Gambling is becoming the new American pastime.
Americans spent a record $53 billion on gambling in 2021. Between casinos and gaming apps, revenue rose 21% from the previous record set in 2019.” The Las Vegas Strip is still the king of gambling in America,” wrote Forbes. “The city brought in more than $7 billion in gross gambling revenue last year, according to the report. Atlantic City ranks second with $2.6 billion in gross gambling revenue and the Chicagoland area comes in in third place with just over $2 billion. To put that into perspective, that’s more than double the revenue of all major professional sports leagues in North America and Europe.
In-person gambling is still the most popular form of gambling. Forbes explained, “The combined revenue from slots, tables, and physical sports betting reached $45.62 billion, or 85% of total gaming revenue.” Yet one of the game’s transformative methods was the legalization of sports gambling.
In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that limited sports betting in Nevada. Today, more than 30 states have legalized sports betting. If you’ve watched sports recently, you know how easy it is to place a bet via your smartphone: online sports betting advertising is present on all advertisements during matches and on all billboards in the stages. Will Leitch wrote to Atlantic: “The nfl, NBA, mlb, wnba and nhl (not to mention some university programs) have all signed lucrative deals with sportsbooks such as mgm, Bally’s, PointsBet and DraftKings. The Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting in 2018; last year it was a $26 billion industry. Instead of flying to Las Vegas or finding a sportsbook in a shady alley, now all you have to do is open your smartphone and put some money on the game of your choice. In 2021, Americans wagered $57.22 billion on sports betting. That’s more than books, music and movies combined.
Many of these online betting services entice Americans to indulge in gambling when they may have never thought of it before. “Before online gambling was legalized, the vast majority of Americans would go their entire lives without the temptation to seek out a bookmaker or fly to the handful of jurisdictions in which in-person sports betting was permitted,” said writes Matthew Walther at Atlantic. “A lot of the adverts I see while watching football promote what’s called ‘risk-free’ betting, a phrase that should probably run counter to various truth-in-advertising laws. what they mean is that if you bet $300 and win you can withdraw your winnings… if you lose your lost bets become credits which can be used for future bets. one goal: to ensure that you continue to use the platform.” A record number of Americans are putting their hard-earned money into these “risk-free” platforms.
The pandemic has also transformed gambling, in general, moving it to online casinos. Not only can you bet on sports from your smartphone, but you can also play casino games virtually. Revenue from these online casinos is rapidly eclipsing earnings from sports betting. In 2020, online gambling revenue worldwide was $66.67 billion. By 2030, the market is expected to reach $153.6 billion in revenue. It is estimated that 124 million adults in the United States gamble each year in casinos, online or bet on sports. But it’s not just America, more than 19 million Canadians gamble each year, that’s half the country.
These statistics do not include those who participate in lotteries, which are another monstrous source of profit. In 2017, the sale of state lotteries exceeded $71 billion. CNBC reports, “Consumers each spend an average of about $86 a month on lottery tickets, including everything from scratch cards that come out of vending machines to entries for Powerball and Mega Millions competitions.” The average American spends $1,038 per year on lotteries. Americans earning less than $30,000 a year spend 13% of their income on lottery tickets. Forty-nine percent of American adults admit to buying lottery tickets each year, which is about the same number of people who gamble each year.
Who really benefits from the game? Clearly, casinos, gaming platforms and lottery ticket providers are the real winners. Poor people trying to hit the jackpot and find an easy way out of poverty suffer the most. People are tempted to try and make a quick buck from attractive ads and easy access. But all of these gaming platforms are designed to be addictive so that there is a steady stream of income. Especially at a time when many are facing economic hardship, gambling is an appealing or desperate way to find relief.
“The widespread legalization of sports betting will undoubtedly create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of drug addicts, many of whom will lose their homes, vehicles, families and dignity,” Forbes wrote. Currently, 1% of Americans, 36 million people, suffer from a serious gambling addiction; however, this number jumps to 9% in adults. Gambling addiction is very similar to alcohol and drug addiction, and it often leads to other addictions and problems.
Gambling is another example of behavior once considered a vice and a crime that has become legal and commonplace. Despite the reasonable expectation of widespread gambling addiction, many believe the money raised in taxes outweighs the societal costs. “Gambling also leads, indirectly, to an increase in violent crime, suicides, divorces and bankruptcies,” wrote Stephen Marche at the Atlantic. “Compulsive gambling is a significant social cost; the pain of wasted lives extends to entire families. The approximate social cost of a single compulsive gambler is approximately $10,000 per year. Widespread gambling is associated with the breakdown of society. March explained:
Bets tend to increase during times of social disruption. Russia experienced a “game orgy” from 1905 until the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. The communists believed it was a ploy by the reactionaries, “associated with the revolutionary movement in the country and even labeled as government measures aimed at diverting society’s attention from political rallies and meetings”. A similar wave of gambling rocked the French Revolution. “By the Revolution of 1789, the quadrangular four-storey Palais Royal in Paris had become the most gleaming tourist center in Europe, with 180 shops and cafes in its ground-floor arcades,” according to a report by the Journal of Gambling Studies.
Widespread gambling is one of many troubling signs of America’s collapse. Bible prophecy warns that at the end of time America would suffer debilitating curses: “Know also that in the last days perilous times are coming. For men will be in love with themselves, greedy, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, impious, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, ferocious, despising the good, traitors, heady , proud, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). People covet wealth by exploiting people through gambling, and people covet money by trying to win the jackpot. Gambling is a direct violation of God’s law, and the Bible says that breaking God’s law is the cause of all these curses on our society.
To better understand why gambling and other curses engulf English-speaking nations and to better understand what the Bible teaches about gambling, please read Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain According to Prophecy and our article “Gambling Addiction in America”.