As a teenager growing up in Queens, NY, often riding the Q11 Bus from Queens- to Rockaway-Blvd, I got various glimpses of the signs for and symbols of gambling whenever my girlfriend would drag me to shop at the Aquaduct Flea Market.
I can recall passing the corner OTB Shop as we went and seeing the enormous racetrack when we got there—the market held seasonally by the racetrack. Despite living relatively close to the track, I was unfamiliar with the type of gambling it hosted and didn’t have any natural interest—so I mostly just appreciated the horses.
Our family did play lottery tickets occasionally. Although in my mind, then and now, the experience was more about indulging in the fun of “what-would-you-do?” fantasies with friends and family than actual winning. As I remember these times now, I can still feel the fun of speculating “what-would-I do-if”? but now that feeling is overshadowed by a concern for the reality that often accompanies gambling fantasies…
Today, gambling is evolving and expanding, both as an business industry and a social activity. State laws have changed since that stroll down Rockaway and that summer flea market has been replaced with a multi-million dollar, casino slash “racino”—which certainly stands as a symbol and source of gambling evolution in NY State.
While such casinos are playing a role in this evolution, I’d guess that the greatest influence on gambling’s “evolution” is modern technology.
Technology has modernized the style of older games and designed new ones, tied to new ways of accessing and experiencing play. Now I can scan for an electronic lottery ticket, with an easy-to-use easy app on my smart phone, while pumping gas at the petro-station! I can go to the local casino and play electronic table games with a lovely, virtual-reality hostess. Sports betting is still largely illegal, but fantasy-sports betting and many other forms of on-line gambling are quickly becoming a popular American pastime.
But even as the pastime grows a controversy persists.
Because, although still not widely-enough known in my opinion, it is a sure fact that alongside the pleasure and economic benefit that comes from gambling, come some serious social problems and real-life pain. This is what we call “Problem Gambling”.
But how did we arrive at this point?
In my next blog I will investigate this question by going on a short tour of gambling history. For the present, if you or anyone you know needs help please feel free to contact us. For more information follow the link below.