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The Facts About Indian Gaming
(9/30/05)


Another response to The Facts About Indian Gaming:

[A] minor quibble about web site content. I am referring to the title about gaming cliches in pulp fiction. The use of the word "gaming" instead of "gambling" by the gambling industry is sales language (as if they are ashamed of the word "gambling"), and is not very accurate. Gambling is only one type of gaming. The casinos are specifically gambling institutions. They don't get involved with other activities called "gaming" by holding Monopoly or D&D tournaments nor do they host Quake LAN parties.

When I saw that title, I first thought that the article would be about stereotypes in role-playing games (perhaps "Call of Cthulhu", which is based on Weird Tales pulp magazines).

I am no anti-gambling or anti-casino activist. I just dislike euphemisms.

Rob's reply
>> The use of the word "gaming" instead of "gambling" by the gambling industry is sales language (as if they are ashamed of the word "gambling"), and is not very accurate. <<

The industry has used the term "gaming" for decades, if not longer. If it's sales language, it's well-established sales language. It's like using "black" instead of "Negro"a convention that's become the norm.

>> Gambling is only one type of gaming. The casinos are specifically gambling institutions. <<

The words have subtle distinctions. For instance, you could claim pastimes like poker, blackjack, and sports betting are games of skill, not chance. If you know what you're doing at these activities, you're only partially gambling.

See

Gaming vs. Gambling

for the words' histories.

>> They don't get involved with other activities called "gaming" by holding Monopoly or D&D tournaments nor do they host Quake LAN parties. <<

These are the most recent uses of the word "gaming." The use of "gaming" to mean "gambling" is much older.

>> When I saw that title, I first thought that the article would be about stereotypes in role-playing games (perhaps "Call of Cthulhu", which is based on Weird Tales pulp magazines). <<

I tend to use "gaming" to refer to the industry and "gambling" to refer to the specific act of playing the games. The sign in front of a casino isn't a gambling stereotype, it's a gaming stereotype. If someone said all high-rollers are white males, that would be a gambling stereotype.

>> I am no anti-gambling or anti-casino activist. I just dislike euphemisms. <<

It's more of a synonym than a euphemism.

More on the story

Gaming or gambling? What's the difference?

By MARC LEVY
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. Anne L. Neeb, the executive director of Pennsylvania's new agency to regulate slot-machine gambling, was telling senators earlier this month about "compulsive gaming problems" when one of them asked if she meant "gambling addiction."

"Yes, that is gambling addiction," Neeb responded.

"OK," concluded the questioner, Sen. David J. Brightbill, who opposed the bill that legalized slots in Pennsylvania 20 months ago. "Maybe that would be a better term."

That exchange dramatized a nationwide rhetorical quandary. What most Americans call "gambling" is generally called "gaming" by people who have a stake in its financial or political success.

Even the fledgling agency that Neeb heads is named by law the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, not the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board.

"'Gambling' suggests vice, the shady underside of games of chance," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "'Gaming' suggests sportsmanlike, honorable behavior in which there are rules that are enforced, and there is no shady underside."

"Gambling" implies the likelihood of loss, whereas "gaming" implies fun, added Jamieson, who studied the political use of the words as Gov. Ed Rendell led the charge to legalize slot machines in Pennsylvania.

Which word is more accurate? It depends on whom you ask.

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the words in similar fashion, although "gaming" is also described as "gambling," but not vice versa.

A national casino industry group cites the Oxford English Dictionary's opinion that "gamble" is an 18th-century slang offshoot of "game," and that "game" has been used for much longer. That industry group is named the American Gaming Association.

"The business is gaming, the activity is to gamble," said Virginia McDowell, a spokeswoman for Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Jan Jones, the former Las Vegas mayor who is now a senior vice president for Harrah's Entertainment, said "gambling" became "gaming" as that city's famous Strip transformed into an entertainment mecca, complete with shopping and stage shows.

Nonetheless, Bill Thompson, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor who studies the gambling industry, said that "gaming" went virtually unused until the late 1980s.

That was when the federal government paved the way for more casinos on Indian land. States wanted to benefit from those revenues but, at the same time, politicians wanted to avoid the ugly images of mobsters, prostitutes and addicts that were associated with casino gambling in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., Thompson said.

"The legislators say, 'Oh no no, we don't have gambling. We just have gaming. We're just playing games,'" Thompson said.

In the 1950s, Nevada created a Gaming Control Board and Gaming Commission, the first modern-day agencies to regulate the casino industry. Other state regulatory agencies followed decades later the Colorado Division of Gaming, the Indiana Gaming Commission and the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, among others.

Only a few states, including Minnesota, California and Washington, use "gambling" in the title of a regulatory agency.

Tad Decker, a Philadelphia lawyer who had no connection to the gambling industry before Rendell tapped him to chair the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, uses the word "gaming," but not without a struggle.

During the Appropriations Committee hearing where Neeb testified, he corrected himself after saying the word "gambling."

In the early 1970s, Pennsylvania officials wrestled with the negative image associated with casinos when they introduced another state-sanctioned gambling program.

The sale of 50-cent tickets that underwrote $1 million weekly drawings and property-tax rebates for the elderly was named the Pennsylvania Lottery.

---

Marc Levy covers state government for The Associated Press in Harrisburg.


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