From Bookies to Browsers: Gambling’s Evolution & Societal Impact

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A picture of wooden blocks with hand-written letters spelling out “Chance”. A “G” sits on top of the “C” for wordplay. 5 red, six-sided dice surround the blocks.
BetMGM Aug 11, 2023, 11:16 AM

Gambling has become one of the ultimate leisure activities that offers thrill and excitement. But gambling isn’t a new-age pastime. From ancient dice games to modern brick-and-mortar casinos and the online casino, gambling was and is a beloved pastime for many people worldwide. It offers a delightful escape from the tedium of everyday life, becoming an essential leisure activity or a replacement for other leisure activities.

However, the rate of growth of the gaming industry in recent years is nothing short of remarkable. Over the last two decades, the gaming industry has gone through a transformation that is fueled by the internet and its power of connectivity. The evolution from traditional bookmakers to online casinos offering online poker, online slots, a whole host of online games and online betting for a wide range of sports, gambling is now able to cater to the ever-changing needs and desires of punters.

The impact of the evolution of gambling on society has been equally outstanding if not downright astonishing. Read on to see how gambling has shifted from offline to online, how it now occupies both spaces and its impact of gambling on society at large. 

Evolution of Gambling

The Chinese were the first to record gambling practices in 2300 BC. But the origins of gambling reaches even farther back. How much farther? No one really knows. But various cultures, including Greek, Roman and Native American, embraced gambling as part of everyday life. While some cultures considered it pure entertainment, others used the game of chance to predict the future. 

Lotteries became a hit during the Revolutionary War of the 1770s. By the 1790s, Harry Ogden, who operated out of the Newmarket Heath race course, revolutionized bookmaking and became the first person to make a profit-setting odds. He would carefully study the field and lay odds on each of the horses. At the time, only two standard options — to bet on the favorite or the field — were available to the people.

As time went on, all types of gambling were limited to the racetrack due to laws that prohibited public games of cards where money was at stake. It was in this light that brick-and-mortar bookies emerged in the mid-1800s and offered ways to bet on sports other than racing.

Then came the internet, about 129 years later, and changed society in ways that were unprecedented. Suddenly, people could remain in the comfort of their homes and play instead at live dealer online casinos. The first online casino opened up in the mid-1990s and in the early 2000s, they became a massive hit among gamblers and were seen as alternatives to the traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

Online gambling has grown greatly from those early years, now offering a vast array of games and betting options to every player. The luxury of game options available means players are always catered for no matter their personal choice of game. 

One surprising social impact of gambling is that games like live dealer games allow players to interact with players from other places and parts of the world in real time while playing the game.Does this mean traditional casinos are a dying breed? Definitely not. It simply means that players now have choices about when and where to play. The experience is part of the thrill after all. In fact, patronage is expected to continue to rise as a result of the influence of pop culture on casinos.

Factors Facilitating the Evolution of Gambling

Advancements in technology and the connectivity of the internet have revolutionized the expectations of gamblers and bookmakers, who raced to incorporate the newest technologies so that punters could access games no matter which platform they migrate to.

Mobile apps are another interesting development that has influenced the gaming industry. Betting companies embraced mobile apps, which offer even greater accessibility and convenience and made digital gambling a popular choice over in-person options. This has led to over $100 billion in bets annually and accounted for 40% of the total online gambling market by 2018. 

As artificial intelligence continues to progress, there’s little doubt that it will impact casinos in the future. The signs are already encouraging. 

Impact of Gambling on Society

The consensus on the impact of gambling on society is that gambling is a double-edged sword. Many point to the various positive effects of gambling, one of which is the provision of entertainment to millions of people all over the world. Gambling also generates billions of dollars in revenue for organizations to employ thousands of people and for governments to help support social programs. Different sectors of the tech industry supply the gaming industry with software and maintain the security of personal information from potential data breaches. The liquor and hospitality industries also receive a boost as a result of growth in the gambling industry. All these are benefits of gambling to society at large.

But with the good comes the bad. The negative impacts of gambling spring largely from the addictive nature of gambling. If not caught early and managed properly, gambling addiction can lead to financial woes and relationship breakdowns. However, the best casinos are aware of the potential issues and will put measures in place to help their patrons play responsibly and manage their bankrolls. 

Critics are also concerned about gambling’s historic and continuous association with organized crimes and money laundering, which have severe social and economic implications for the society. Critics argue that governments must do more to address the negative impacts and regulate the gaming industry effectively. In the end, the impact of gambling on society is a mixed bag indeed.

You Can’t Miss Out on Trends With BetMGM

The evolution of the gaming industry, from bookmakers to online casinos, leaves a profound mark on society. While gambling does have many advantages, it’s important to acknowledge the potential and real risks and proactively address them. BetMGM has options for players to set limits on their time and their spend to help curb any bad habits that may occur. There’s also the option to self-exclude from the site for a time.

Governments all over the world play an important role in regulating the industry but regulation can vary from one location to another even within the boundaries of the same country. Addressing these lapses will contribute to safe and responsible gaming as a form of entertainment for generations to come while limiting the negative impact of gambling on society. 

Truth be told, the thrill of gaming is boundless. The array of games available to play is also indeed a luxury. If you’re a gambling enthusiast, register with BetMGM to play all of your favorite online games, from poker and blackjack to online free slots and bingo.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.