Gambling is commonly defined as the voluntary risking of a sum of money called a wager, stake, or bet, on the outcome of a game or other event.

Historical Records of Gambling

Historical records and archeological evidence suggest that gambling has existed throughout most civilizations. Based on the data collected in the 20th century, anthropologists find solid implications that gambling took place within a large portion of the greatest societies to have ever existed. Dating back to 2300 BC, gambling artifacts have been recovered from some of the oldest civilizations including China, India, Egypt and Rome. Scientists discovered a set of ivory dice dating from before 1500 BC from Thebes, and detailed writings mentioning gambling were found on a tablet in the Pyramid of Cheops. Evidence dating back to the 14th century offers some of the first findings of gambling becoming outlawed; King Henry VIII of England did so after discovering that his soldiers had been spending more time gambling than fulfilling their assigned duties.

The Psychology of Gambling

The two primary views on how gambling relates to the psychological makeup of human beings are as follows:

1. Gambling is a form of deviant behavior.
2. Gambling is an extension of normal behavior.

The psychology of gambling is best explained by examining the two opposite viewpoints regarding what gambling is. From one perspective, there are those who view gambling as a disease and sickness. From the other perspective, there are those who see gambling so involved in and integral to the daily affairs of humans, that it requires no interpretation or moderation. Finding a stance between these two sides, whether it is a balanced stance or not, has been the task of many governments in countries where gambling is tolerated to any degree whatsoever.

Gambling vs. Gaming

The word "gambling" is generally used to discuss an activity that may run afoul of applicable criminal laws. The word "gaming" is usually reserved for those instances where the activity has been specifically legalized by applicable laws or where the activity is exempted from the criminal laws. Thus, playing a casino-style game at a for-profit website online in the United States is referred to as gambling, since no state has yet finalized any law specifically authorizing a for-profit website operator to offer any casino games. The two words are not mutually exclusive. That is, a gaming activity could turn out to be gambling where applicable laws regulating that particular gaming are violated. Similarly, a gambling activity may turn out to be gaming if it is exempted from a given criminal statute. For example, playing a card game for money in a purely social setting where no one earns anything from the game other than as a mere player would be gaming if such social games were excluded from the reach of the criminal laws in the state where the game takes place.

Gambling Disorders

Compulsive gambling is an impulse control disorder characterized by an individual's inability to resist the urge to gamble, severely affecting their personal and social lives. The chronic disorder begins in adolescence, progressing into compulsive gambling involving increasingly higher stakes and personal risk that can only be placated by more gambling. Symptoms include excessive time spent gambling, borrowing and spending increased amounts of money for gambling, mood swings on a regular basis according to wins and losses, and unusually secretive behavior. Treatment is possible through recognition of the problem, group support, antidepressant medication, and psychotherapy. Between one and three percent of adults are affected by pathological gambling with a higher percentage of men than women.

Online Casino Players from US Play via Canada

Since the passing of the UIGEA, or Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, in October of 2006 by the US Congress and President George W. Bush, many American online casino fans have been finding ways to circumvent the authorities in order to play their favorite online casinos games. Those who have been determined enough have found a way to do this – by playing via their northern neighboring country, Canada. Through a loophole that employs Canadian-based servers online casino fans are continuing their favorite pastime without a glitch.

On November 2009, Harrahs Entertainment, the largest casino hotel chain in the world launched their own Online Casino brand - also based in Canada. This site doesn't take bets from US players at all at this point.

The UIGEA only affects American citizens and not Canadians. Many online poker rooms now do not allow members from the States, however if you appear to be Canadian then you are free to register and play,’ said Ryan, a member of a leading online casino based in Canada. So US online casino players are trading their red, white and blue stars and stripes for the red and white of the Canadian flag in order to continue visiting online casinos without being caught.

The program masks American based Internet provider addresses with Canadian ones so to the online casino poker site the online casino user appears to be playing from a Canadian address. Under the US ban gamblers are not allowed to use credit cards and online gambling houses are forbidden from accepting checks, credit cards, or electronic fund transfers to handle wager transactions. However many online casino players get past this by using third party payment processors. Online casino poker fans from the States are already comparing this era of prohibition to that of the 1920s.