Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Spousal Ethical Justifications of Casino Gambling: A Psychometric Analysis

Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

Spousal Ethical Justifications of Casino Gambling: A Psychometric Analysis

Article excerpt

Spousal reactions to social costs and benefits of legalizing casino gambling in their city are converted to psychometric measures that reflect teleological and distributive-justice related ethical assessments. Major findings indicate low teleological and distributive justifications of casino gambling among both spouses, particularly among wives. As expected, heavy casino gamblers score higher compared to light gamblers and nongamblers; the level of one's past betting and gambling involvement is found to predispose higher ethical justifications of local casinos. Social policy implications of findings are discussed.

It is estimated that well over a million Americans can be classified as pathological gamblers, a condition that rivals alcoholism as a disrupter of careers, families, and personal integrity (Miller 1986). Apparently, drawn by large profit potential and economic banefits of casino gambling or of betting games in general, many states in the United States have seriously considered legalizing gambling. Cost/benefit reports of actual or prospective casino ventures in Florida (Blum 1986), Indiana (DeBoer 1988; Zorn 1988), Nevada (Bromberg 1987; Karpowicz 1988; Silk-Shari 1988), New Jersey (Adams 1988), Montana (Waldron 1986), Louisiana (Public Affairs Research 1986), Michigan (Mascarenhas 1988), Philadelphia (Rhodes 1986), and Indian reservations (Jones 1986) are documented. Similar reports on foreign legalized gambling, such as in Perth (Lee 1987), Canada (Smith 1987), and England (Maguire 1987) are also published.

The ethics associated with gambling have been the heart of a long historical tradition that documents political and religious resistance to gambling activity (e.g., Rosecrane 1988). However, legalized gambling as a politically sanctioned institutional market and the marketing of casino gambling products/services by licensed institutions have not been empirically subjected to serious ethical analysis. Currently some effort has been made to establish an empirical methodology for the ethical assessment of social marketing phenomena such as casino gambling. This methodology develops and validates psychometric measures for traditional ethical appraisal theories such as teleology and distributive justice (Mascarenhas 1990). The research reported here applies a similar measurement methodology for deriving and analyzing ethical assessments of husbands and wives regarding legalized casino gambling in their state or city, and correlates spousal ethical assessments to their betting and casino gambling activities. The data used in this study were collected in ascertaining public opinion of metrohouseholders to actual casino gambling prospects in their Midwestern metrocity (Mascarenhas 1988).

GAMBLING RESEARCH: A SYNOPTIC REVIEW

Gambling as a chronic, addictive, or hedonic activity has been empirically researched under various aspects.

(a) Psycho-biopathological: gambling is predominantly treated as an addictive epidemic, and gamblers are classified into psychodiagnostic typologies, suggesting psychodynamic treatment schedules for eventual cure (e.g., Brown 1987; Knapp and Lech 1987).

(b) Psycho-paratelic: gambling is treated as an episodic paratelic (playful) state (as opposed to telic or goal-oriented behavior), as a means of achieving a reversal or switch from one metamotivational state to another (Anderson and Brown 1987), and also as recreation and leisure (Dixey 1987; Silk-Shari 1988) or as vacation (Adams 1988).

(c) Comparative: this school compares gambling addicts to other addict groups such as alcoholics, bulimics, and smokers, and searchers for patterns in predispositions, symptoms, causes, and effects (Kagan and Albertson 1986; Miller 1986).

(d) Socio-etiological: this approach analyzes antecedent correlates of gambling such as increased legalized gambling (Lindgren, Young, and McDonald et al. 1987) or parental gambling problems (Lesieur and Klein 1987), concurrent correlates such as reasoned action (Cummings and Corney 1987) or gender role socialization (Lindgren, Young, and McDonald et al. …

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