The internet is probably the most useful resource known to man in this day of age. It is not only easily accessible but also easy to use. Nearly everyone owns at least one device which has access to internet. This also means that more and more people are having the ability to access and share information to anyone they want.
However having this ‘ability’ might not always be a good thing. In some cases, internet can be highly dangerous especially if it is abused or used in the wrong hands. This is because the internet has as much potential to put people at risk as its benefits. These risks can be any form of physical to psychological harm.
One example of these activities will be online gambling and it is extremely well known. The number of online gambling sites had increase significantly for the past years and this is highly unlikely to decrease. Up to today, there are more than 53,000 online gambling sites (as at 2004) in the internet and 12 million online gamblers (as at 2001). Just try googling “free online betting” etc. and you will be able to find plenty of websites on online gambling. Almost all the sites offer you games, mainly casino games that have excellent graphics and sounds that make it seem like you are in a real live based casino. Of course, these games are not limited to casino games, sport betting games such as sports tournaments, horse and motor racing are often available too.
Since there are tons of people gambling online, does this means that online gambling is ethical?
Compared to traditional gambling, online gambling offers much more advantages. The main reason to gamble online is because of the convenience it provides to the gamblers. One can play directly from home or anywhere as long as there is internet access. No travelling is required. Also, the internet is readily available 24/7 which means that you can also play at your own convenience any time of day when you feel like it. Moreover, online gambling often offer sign-up bonuses for first-timers. This is actually a gimmick to attract their customers into trying them out. Such examples include extra 50% of one’s preliminary deposit to their gambling account and special prizes etc.
However, in my opinion, despite the additional benefits, I feel that online gambling, or in fact gambling itself, is never ethical. Some people may consider gambling as a healthy lifestyle, seeing it as an alternative to kill time. No doubt these may be true but I strongly believe that the consequences of gambling must never be taken lightly. From my point of interpreting the rules learnt during lessons, this is what I derived:
Kantianism requires us to determine if the initial will of an act is good or bad and from there derive, if it is ethical or unethical. To examine this, we have to first understand why people gamble? The Australian Productivity Commission’s report in 1999 summarized the motives for gambling as hoping and dreaming, generating revenue, social interaction, recreation and charity. Out of these reasons, “The dream of winning” was identified as the primary reason.
Dreaming of winning appears to prolong the psychologically vital and morally enhancing quality of hope. For this reason, a person gambles not because he or she expects to win but because he or she HOPES to win.
In British researchers Brenner and Brenner’s 1990 examination of the history of gambling, they concluded that gambling has always provided a ritualized form of hope. Gambling rises in when religion, with its alternative ways of ritualizing hope, is in decline or when economic dislocation makes people feel pessimistic from any prospect of gaining the type of wealth that would improve their material lives.
After taking the other reasons for gambling into consideration, it was concluded that there are clear, intrinsic and humanly fulfilling reasons to gamble: socializing, recreation and the opportunity to hope. BUT we must also acknowledge the fact that gamblers want to win to make money. The mentality of gambling to win money is encouraging one to get what he or she wants without putting in effort and solely depending on luck (or maybe with some skills) and this is WRONG.
As for Act Utilitarian, it requires us to measure the net effect of the scenario. In this case, the only one that benefited from gambling is the organization, and perhaps the gambler that wins in the game. But we all know that it is impossible for him to win all the time, thus eventually, the happiness for him will decline and become negative. Now let’s try to evaluate this situation from the society point of view. Presuming that the winners are always the minority, the happiness level can never exceed the unhappiness level.
Next, we must also factor in the possibility for gamblers being addicted to the game and its impact. The social expenses of addictions affect careers, physical and mental wellness issues, bankruptcy, divorce, crimes, and remedy. Very often, gamblers end up relying on welfare or unemployment advantages, thus impacting the government. It is also very common for them to implicate their family members especially when they borrow to gamble.
Online gambling only catalyzes and worsens the impacts. Although not all online gamblers are compulsive, playing online poses a higher risk for addiction. Now more people are being exposed to gambling and more gamblers would mean having more addicts. Furthermore, additional problems and negative consequences tend to be associated with online gambling than with the traditional one. The fact that it is readily available and you can just gamble at your own comfort as anonymous are the main reasons for this obsession. Underage can just gamble without anyone knowing as there is hardly any viable age verification. Moreover, faster Internet speeds also means enhanced and faster access to gambling websites, and an ability to lose more within a shorter time.
In addition, for those who are already compulsive gamblers, the ease and convenience of gambling from home reduces their ability to overcome the urge to continue. The ability to finance gambling through online bank transactions and credit cards also contributes to addictive online gambling. According to the University of Rhode Island website, addiction is more of a concern with online gambling because of the accessibility to gambling. Statistics show that you are expected to gamble more frequently just by clicking on a website than getting up and going to a casino.
To sum up, online gambling has a more severe impact on the gamblers as well as their families. If gambling is really unethical and online gambling only worsens things, why are there so many gambling sites across the internet? Why are web designers still setting up gambling web pages? Is making the ethical decision really so insignificant? Or should gambling just be banned?