by various observers to provide evidence of recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, poor judgment, cognitive distortions, mental illness, and moral turpitude. These varied views have stimulated debate and controversy.
Historically, the word ''gambling" referred to playing unfairly or cheating at play. A gambler was defined as a fraudulent gamester, sharper, or rook who habitually plays for money, especially extravagantly high stakes (Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 1989). In modern times, gambling has come to mean wagering money or other belongings on chance activities or events with random or uncertain outcomes (Devereux, 1979). Gambling in this sense implies an act whereby the participant pursues a monetary gain without using his or her skills (Brenner and Brenner, 1990). This is the dictionary definition of gambling as well (Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 1989). Throughout history, however, gambling also has involved activities requiring skill. For example, a bettor's knowledge of playing strategies can improve his or her chances of winning in certain card games; knowledge of horses and jockeys may improve predictions of probable outcomes in a horse race (Bruce and Johnson, 1996). The use of such skills may reduce the randomness of the outcome but, because of other factors that cannot be predicted or analyzed, the outcome remains uncertain. As used in this report, the term "gambling" refers both to games of chance that are truly random and involve little or no skill that can improve the odds of winning, and to activities that require the use of skills that can improve the chance of winning. By its very nature, gambling involves a voluntary, deliberate assumption of risk, often with a negative expectable value. For example, in casino gambling the odds are against the gambler because the house takes its cut; thus, the more people gamble, the more likely they are to lose.
Throughout history, scholars and writers have theorized about why human beings gamble. These explanations have encompassed evolutionary, cultural, religious, financial, recreational, psychological, and sociological perspectives (Wildman,