Gambling and the American Moral Landscape

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Date: October 25–26, 2007


On Thursday and Friday, October 25 and 26, 2007, the Boisi Center hosted a major conference entitled Gambling and the American Moral Landscape. Recent events in Massachusetts -- where Governor Deval Patrick proposed selling three licenses to build the state's first casinos -- have raised this issue to the very top of the public agenda. The conference was a spirited, rigorous and interdisciplinary look at the role gambling plays in American culture. 


Dwayne Eugène Carpenter is Professor of Hispanic Studies, Chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and Co-Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Boston College. The author of several books on medieval religious and intellectual history, he has a special interest in the historical role of gambling in society. Among his gambling-related articles are “Fickle Fortune: Gambling in Medieval Spain” (Studies in Philology) and “‘Alea jacta est': At the Gaming Table with Alfonso the Learned” (Journal of Medieval History). Carpenter holds a Ph.D. in Romance Languages & Literatures from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a Ph.D. in Medieval Historical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.

Charles T. Clotfelter is Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of Public Policy Studies, Professor of Economics and Law, and Director of the Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. His research interests are the economics of education, the nonprofit sector, public finance, and tax policy. He is the author of After Brown: The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation (Princeton, 2004), Buying the Best: Cost Escalation in Elite Higher Education (Princeton, 1996), and Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving (Chicago, 1985). He has also co-authored (with R. Ehrenberg, M. Getz, and J. Siegried) Economic Challenges in Higher Education (Chicago, 1991) and (with P. Cook) Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America (Harvard, 1989).

Philip J. Cook is ITT/Terry Sanford Distinguished Professor of Public Policy Studies, Professor of Economics, Professor of Sociology, and Associate Director of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He has served as consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice (Criminal Division) and the U.S. Department of Treasury (Enforcement Division). He has also served in a variety of capacities with the National Academy of Sciences, including membership on expert panels dealing with alcohol abuse prevention, violence, and school shootings. Cook is a member of the Division Committee for the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. His books include Gun Violence: The Real Costs (with J. Ludwig, Oxford, 2000), The Winner-Take-All Society (with R. H. Frank, Free Press, 1995), and Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America (with C. Clotfelter, Harvard, 1989).

Rachel T.A. Croson is Associate Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. and A.M. in economics from Harvard University and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. The author of dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters, including several on the “gambler’s fallacy,” Croson brings the insights of behavioral economics to bear upon decision-making practices. Her research involves the experimental and empirical study of how individuals make strategic decisions, especially those concerning negotiation/bargaining and contributions to public goods. She is a member of numerous scholarly editorial boards and foundation advisory boards.

John Dombrink is a professor in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California, Irvine. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a research assistant on Jerome Skolnick’s landmark House of Cards: Legalization and Control of Casino Gambling (1978). He is the author of several articles on gambling in America, and co-author of a book about gambling legalization, The Last Resort: Success and Failure in Campaigns for Casinos (1990, with William N. Thompson). With Daniel Hillyard, he is the author of Dying Right: The Death With Dignity Movement (2001), a study of the legal reform of physician assisted suicide. With Daniel Hillyard, he is also the author of a new book, Sin No More: From Abortion to Stem Cells – Crime , Law and Morality in America. (NYU Press, 2007), in which the authors examine current “morality contests” in American culture, assess the status of American laws and attitudes toward the sphere of personal morality, and address the issues of the “values voters,”  polarization, religion,  ambivalence, and framing strategies.

Matthew Fox is an MBA student at the University of Nevada Reno, and received his B.A. from Colorado College. He is a founding director of Animal House Rescue and Elko County Habitat for Humanity. His research interests include organizational behavior, non-profit management, corporate social responsibility, and more broadly, how organizations make and implement decisions where profit is not the deciding factor. 

William Galston is Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and College Park Professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Cornell University. He is a political theorist who both studies and participates in American politics and domestic policy. Galston was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the first Clinton Administration and Executive Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, which was chaired by Sam Nunn and William Bennett. His books include Public Matters: Essays on Politics, Policy and Religion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005); The Practice of Liberal Pluralism (Cambridge, 2004); and Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice (Cambridge, 2002).

Kenneth Himes, O.F.M. is an Associate Professor of Theology and the Chairperson of the Theology Department at Boston College.
Prior to joining the faculty at Boston College, Fr. Himes taught at Washington Theological Union. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Virginia, Howard University Divinity School and St. John’s University (NY) where he held the Paul McKeever Chair. A member of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) he has held a number of leadership positions within his religious community.
His research interests are in the history of Catholic social teaching, the role of the U.S. Catholic community in American social reform, the ethics of warfare, and the relationship of religion and politics in the nation’s public life.

John P. Hoffmann is Professor of Sociology at Brigham Young University. He earned a B.S. from James Madison University, an M.S. from American University, a Ph.D. from State University of New York at Albany, and an M.P.H. from Emory University. His research interests include criminology, applied statistics, and sociology of religion. Selected publications include “Extracurricular Activities, Athletic Participation, and Adolescent Alcohol Use” (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 2006); “Social and Environmental Influences on Endangered Species: A Cross-National Study” (Sociological Perspectives, 2004); “A Contextual Analysis of Differential Association, Social Control, and Strain Theories of Delinquency” (Social Forces, 2003); and “Religion and Problem Gambling in the United States” (Review of Religious Research, 2000).

T. J. Jackson Lears is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University and Editor-in-Chief of the Raritan Quarterly Review. He earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia, an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. from Yale. His research interests include U.S. cultural and intellectual history, comparative religious history, literature and the visual arts, and folklore and folk beliefs. Selected publications include Something for Nothing: Luck in America (Viking Penguin, 2003); Fables of Abundance: a Cultural History of Advertising in America (Basic Books, 1994); and No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (Pantheon, 1981; reissued by Chicago, 1994; Japanese translation by Shohakusha Publishing, forthcoming).

Steven Andrew Light is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration and Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy at the University of North Dakota.  He received a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University.  Light has published widely on Indian gaming as well as policy implementation, affirmative action, environmental racism, and voting rights.  He is co-author of three books: Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino CompromiseIndian Gaming Law and Policy; and Indian Gaming Law: Cases and Materials; and is writing “The Law is Good”: The Voting Rights Act, Redistricting, and Black Regime Politics.  Light has testified on Indian gaming regulation before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV.  He is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law and writes a regular column on tribal gaming in Casino Lawyer. 

Richard McGowan is Associate Professor of Operations and Strategic Management at Boston College and Research Associate at the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions. He received a D.B.A. in 1988 from Boston University. His research focuses on the interaction of business and public policy processes, especially as they relate to the gambling, tobacco, and alcohol industries. He has published five books: State Lotteries and Legalized Gambling: Painless Revenue or Painful Mirage (Quorum,1994); Business, Politics and Cigarettes: Multiple Levels, Multiple Agendas (Greenwood, 1995); Industry as a Player in the Social and Political Arenas (Quorum, 1996); The Search for Revenue and the Common Good: An Analysis of Government Regulation of the Alcohol Industry (Prager, 1997); and Government and the Transformation of the Gaming Industry (Edward Elgar, 2001). He is currently completing Dividing the Spoils: States and the Gambling Industry and is working on a book on the interaction of government with the accounting industry with Gregory Trompeter of Boston College’s Accounting Department.

R. Shep Melnick is the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics. He teaches a variety of courses on American politics, including Courts and Public Policy, Ideas and Institutions in American Politics, Bureaucracy, Democracy in America, Rights in Conflict, and the American politics graduate field seminar. His research and writing focuses on the intersection of law and politics. His first book, Regulation and the Courts, examined judicial influence on the development of environmental policy. His second, Between the Lines, investigated the ways in which statutory interpretation has shaped a variety of entitlement programs. His current research project looks at how the Rehnquist Court is reshaping our governing institutions. Melnick is co-chair of the Harvard Program on Constitutional Government and a past president of the New England Political Science Department. Before coming to Boston College 1997 he had taught at Harvard and at Brandeis, where he served as chair of the Politics Department.

Michael Nelson is Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College in Memphis. He earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He teaches courses on U.S. Politics, the American Presidency, and the Constitutional Convention. He also teaches the College’s humanities course, “The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion,” and coauthored a book about the course, Celebrating the Humanities: A Half Century of the Search Course at Rhodes College (1996). Nelson has published twenty-one books, the most recent of which are The Presidency and the Political System, 8th ed. (2006), The Elections of 2004 (2005), The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2002 (2003), and (with John Mason Lyman) Governing Gambling: Politics and Policy in State, Tribe, and Nation (2000). His newest book, How the South Joined the Gambling Nation: The Politics of State Policy Innovation, will be published in September 2007 by LSU Press.

Marc Potenza is Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Division of Substance Abuse), Director of the Problem Gambling Clinic, Director of Neuroimaging for the VA MIRECC, and Director of the Women and Addictive Disorders Core of Women's Health Research at Yale University. He holds a Ph.D. in cell biology and an M.D. from Yale University. Potenza investigates the relationship between “behavioral” addictions and drug addictions with particular focus on the etiology and treatment of pathological gambling and the relationship between pathological gambling and drug use disorders. His research group uses a variety of investigative approaches—fMRI neuroimaging, molecular genetic, clinical treatment trials, and epidemiological analyses—to investigate these areas. He is the co-editor of Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment (American Psychiatric Press, 2004), and the author of many articles on pathological gambling, including “Should addictive disorders include non-substance-related conditions,” Addiction, 2006; “Shared Genetic Contributions to Major Depression and Pathological Gambling,” with H. Xian et al. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005); and “Pathological Gambling,” with T.R. Kosten and B.J. Rounsaville (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001).

David Quigley, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History and the Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department at Boston College.  Currently, Professor Quigley is serving as the Acting Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College.
 Professor Quigley teaches a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses on the nineteenth-century United States and on political and urban history. His research to date has explored the history of race and democracy between the American Revolution and Reconstruction in the local political cultures of New York. He is completing a new synthetic project, “Last, Best Hope: International Lives of the American Civil War" (Hill & Wang) and editing “A Companion to American Urban History” (Blackwell) and “Busing in Boston: A Brief History with Documents” (Bedford).

Joseph Quinn, Ph.D., is the James P. McIntyre Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Boston College.
 Prof. Quinn has recently returned to a professorship in the Economics Department after his tenure as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College – a position he held since 1999.  Prof. Quinn’s research interests include labor economics, economics of aging and social security reform.  He is currently teaching on microeconomics and public policy issues.
 Some of Prof. Quinn’s recent publications include "Comments on 'The Role of Employers in Phased Retirement: Opportunities for Phased Retirement among White-Collar Workers'", in Work Options for Older Americans, Teresa Ghilarducci and John Turner, editors (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007) and "Modeling the Retirement Decision," in Social Structures, Aging, and the Self-Regulation of the Elderly, K. Warner Schaie and Laura L. Carstensen, editors (Springer Publishing Company, 2006).

Kathryn R.L. Rand is Floyd B. Sperry Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of North Dakota School of Law, and is Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy.  She received a B.A. from the University of North Dakota and a J.D. from the University of Michigan School of Law.  Rand has published widely on Indian gaming as well as sex equality, affirmative action, and environmental racism.  She is co-author of three books: Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino CompromiseIndian Gaming Law and Policy; and Indian Gaming Law: Cases and Materials.  She has testified on Indian gaming regulation before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and was featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV.  She is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law and the Editorial Board of the Gaming Law Review.  Rand writes a regular column on tribal gaming in Casino Lawyer and with Light, blogs on Indian gaming at

David A. Skeel, Jr. is S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School. Skeel is an expert in bankruptcy and corporate labor law. He holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina. He has been interviewed on Nightline, Chris Matthews’ Hardball (MS-NBC), National Public Radio, and Marketplace, among others, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He is the author of Icarus in the Boardroom (Oxford, 2005) and Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001), as well as numerous articles and other publications. In addition to corporate law and bankruptcy, Skeel writes on sovereign debt law and religion, and poetry and the law, and is an elder at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

William Stuntz is Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law and Vice-Dean for Intellectual Life at Harvard Law School. He received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. His research interests are Christianity and legal theory, crime policy, and criminal law and procedure. Recent publications include “Christian Legal Theory,” Harvard Law Review (2003); “Local Policing After the Terror,” Yale Law Journal (2002); and Comprehensive Criminal Procedure (with R. J. Allen, J. L. Hoffman, and D. A. Livingston) and Aspen Law & Business (2001).

James Sundali is the Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Nevada, Reno and previously taught at Kent State University. His interests include judgment and decision making, game theory, bargaining and negotiation, experimental economics, and finance. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and both an M.B.A. and B.S. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He has also worked as a stockbroker and financial planner. His publications include "Biases in casino betting: The hot hand and the gambler's fallacy" with Rachel Croson in the journal, Judgment and Decision Making. He has also published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Journal of Business Strategies.

Kathryn Tanner is Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Yale University. Tanner is a Christian theologian in the Protestant tradition; she addresses contemporary challenges to belief through the creative use of the history of Christian thought and interdisciplinary methods such as critical, social, and feminist theory. Her books God and Creation in Christian Theology and The Politics of God discuss the coherence and practical force of Christian beliefs about God's relation to the world. Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology explores the relevance of cultural studies for rethinking theological method. Her brief systematic theology, Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity, centers on the incarnation. Her latest book, Economy of Grace, explores the intersections between theology and economics.

Judith Wilt, Ph.D., is the Newton College Alumnae Chair in Western Culture and Professor of English in the English Department at Boston College.
 Professor Wilt specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British fiction, Victorian literature, Women's Studies, religion and literature, and popular-culture genres.
 She is a founding member of the Women's Studies Committee at Boston College and has published essays and given papers on women writers as diverse as Ayn Rand, Toni Morrison, Georgette Heyer and Virginia Woolf.
 Some of Prof. Wilt’s published works include Behind Her Times: The Novels of Mary Arnold Ward (2005) and an article published in Victorian Literature and Culture titled “Bronte's Shirley: Reflections on Marrying Moores” in March 2002.

Alan Wolfe served as the founding director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, and Professor of Political Science, at Boston College from 1999 until his retirement in 2016. 

Widely regarded as one of this coutry's most prominent public intellectuals, he is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including, most recently, At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews (2014), Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (2011), The Future of Liberalism (2009), Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape (co-edited with Erik Owens, 2009), Does American Democracy Still Work? (2006), Return to Greatness: How America Lost Its Sense of Purpose and What it Needs to Do to Recover It (2005), The Transformation of American Religion: How We Actually Practice our Faith (2003), An Intellectual in Public (2003), School Choice: The Moral Debate (editor, 2002) Moral Freedom: The Search for Virtue in a World of Choice (2001), One Nation, After All (1999), and Marginalized in the Middle (1997). Both One Nation, After All and Moral Freedom were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

Professor Wolfe attended Temple University as an undergraduate and received his doctorate in political science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. He has honorary degrees from Loyola College in Maryland and St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

He is a Senior Fellow with the World Policy Institute at the New School University in New York.  In the fall of 2004, Professor Wolfe was the George H. W. Bush Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

A contributing editor of The Wilson QuarterlyCommonwealth Magazine, and In Character, Professor Wolfe writes often for those publications as well as for CommonwealThe New York TimesHarper'sThe Atlantic MonthlyThe Washington Post, and other magazines and newspapers. He served as an advisor to President Clinton in preparation for his 1995 State of the Union address and has lectured widely at American and European universities.

Professor Wolfe has been the recipient of grants from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Lilly Endowment. He has twice conducted programs under the auspices of the U.S. State Department that bring Muslim scholars to the United States to learn about separation of church and state. He is listed in Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Contemporary Authors.

Event Photos

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Participants of the Gambling and the American Moral Landscape Conference

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Panel I: Michael Nelson

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Panel I: Charles T. Clotfelter

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Panel I: Steven Light

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Panel I: Shep Melnick

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Panel I: Michael Nelson

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Panel I: Steven Light and Kathryn Rand

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Panel II: John Dombrink

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Panel II: John Hoffman

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Panel II: Marc Potenza

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Panel II: Joseph Quinn

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Panel III: William Galston

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Panel III: William Stuntz

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Panel III: Kathryn Tanner

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Panel III: Dwayne Carpenter

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Panel IV: Left to Right: Richard McGowan, T.J. Jackson Lears, Alan Wolfe, Steven Light

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Panel IV: T.J. Jackson Lears, Alan Wolfe

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Panel IV: Richard McGowan

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Panel IV: Alan Wolfe

Event Recap

The Boisi Center’s biggest event of the fall semester was a major conference on “Gambling and the American Moral Landscape” held at Boston College, October 25-26, 2007.  The culmination of two years of planning, the conference fortuitously coincided with political discussion over Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal for three casinos to be built in this state. The conference consequently drew significant media and public attention, as well as a well-informed and passionate audience representing various policy advocacy groups, casinos, state and local governments, and academic disciplines. Audio and video links to the presentations and discussion sessions can be found on the conference website (, along with numerous resources for those interested in learning more about gambling. Boisi Center director Alan Wolfe and assistant director Erik Owens are hard at work editing a volume of these papers, which will be published in book form in 2009.

The New Politics and Policy of Gambling

The conference kicked off with a panel addressing policy and political issues associated with gambling. This wide-ranging panel included discussion of political rationales used to justify a state’s implementation of a lottery, the continued expansion of state lotteries, the lack of federal control of lotteries and the moral implications of tribal sovereignty and socioeconomic depression in many Indian communities.  Kenneth Himes, O.F.M. (Boston College) chaired the session, which included Charles Clotfelter (Duke University), Michael Nelson (Rhodes College) and a joint presentation by Kathryn R.L. Rand and Steven A. Light (University of North Dakota). The respondent, R. Shep Melnick (Boston College), discussed these papers in light of the contradictory interests of the public in lower taxes and more social services. Gambling revenues (and thus tax receipts from these revenues) are disproportionately provided by the poorest Americans, who also tend to vote less. So in an important sense,  Melnick argued, government expansion of gambling allows states to increase government services to voters who do not themselves pay the price.

Individual Behavior, Social Impact

Thursday’s second panel focused on individual behavior and the social impact of gambling. The panelists, Rachel Croson (University of Texas, Dallas), John Hoffmann (Brigham Young University) and Marc Potenza (Yale University), offered presentations on the psychological, social and physiological aspects of gambling. Some highlights of the panel included evidence that what people actually do—as empirically observed—frequently conflicts with what they should do to improve their welfare; general agreement that while only 1.5% of people who have gambled become pathological gamblers, these people can have a disastrous impact on their families, friends and colleagues; and descriptions of cutting edge brain imaging research on behavioral addictions such as gambling. Joseph Quinn (Boston College) chaired the panel, and discussant John Dombrink (University of California, Irvine) adeptly wove the various arguments together and recounted his own experience with bingo in the Catholic church.

Theology, Gambling and Risk

Judith Wilt (Boston College) chaired Friday’s first panel, which focused on theological concerns about gambling. William Galston (Brookings Institution), Kathryn Tanner (University of Chicago) and William Stuntz (Harvard University) presented wide-ranging papers that explored the Jewish commitment to work, creativity, contemplation and the concerns of practicality; the curious gamble inherent in “Pascal’s wager” about the existence of God; and a shift in American law, as influenced by Protestant Christianity, away from mercy toward retribution as response to vice. Dwayne Carpenter (Boston College) responded to the papers in part with a considerable contribution of his own about the role of gambling in Jewish history. Together the panelists demonstrated that gambling has often been understood as compatible with religious belief and practice, contrary to today’s prevailing opinion.

Gambling in American Culture

The phenomenon of gambling in American culture was addressed in the final panel of the conference, chaired by David Quigley (Boston College). Economist Richard McGowan, S.J. (Boston College) outlined the curious inverse relationship between the fates of the American cigarette and gambling industries in the last fifty years. T.J. Jackson Lears (Rutgers University) described the long-standing tension in American culture between visions of “the self-made man,” who thrives on the “culture of control” and eschews the easy money of gambling, and “the confidence man,” who thrives on the “culture of chance” by relying upon luck and the gullibility of others to get ahead. “How different is the stock market day-trader from the lone gambler?” Lears asked, and is the former best understood as a self-made man or a confidence man?  The Boisi Center’s Alan Wolfe argued that gambling has never risen to the forefront of the culture wars alongside abortion and gay rights in large part because it has widespread support, and thus has never become a topic of national debate or controversy. Discussant Steven Light (University of North Dakota) concluded the panel by arguing that well-informed public discourse and public policy about gambling requires much more sophisticated analysis and awareness than is common today.

Conference organizers and participants agreed that the event was a great success, and we would like to thank the many people who made it happen. For details about all the speakers and their presentations, please visit the conference web site ( Stay tuned for updates in this newsletter about the edited volume of conference essays; we will announce the book’s publisher soon.

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Further Reading

Below you will find an assortment of literature, web based sources and film media that can provide everything from historical background of to current debates on gambling and the American moral landscape.

A) Books and Articles

    1) Current Analysis of Gambling
    2) History of Gambling
    3) Gambling Addiction
    4) Professional Gambling
    5) Gambling: Mapping the American Moral Landscape
    6) Non-Gambling Works by Conference Participants

B) Websites

    1) About Gambling
    2) Gambling Addiction

C) Films



* indicates works by conference participants


*Clotfelter, Charles, and Philip Cook. Selling Hope: State Lotteries in America. Harvard, 1989.

Collins, Peter. Gambling and the Public Interest. Praeger, 2003.

Cosgrave, James, editor. The Sociology of Risk and Gambling Reader. Routledge, 2006.

*Croson, Rachel, and J. Sundali. “The Gambler’s Fallacy and the Hot Hand: Empirical Data from Casinos.” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 30 (2005), 195-209.

Derevensky, Jeffrey, and Rina Gupta, editors. Gambling Problems in Youth: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2004.

Evans, Rod, and Mark Hance. Legalized Gambling: For and Against. Open Court Publishing Company, 1997.

Goodman, Robert. The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America's Gambling. Free Press, 1996.

Griffiths, Mark. Expert on British problem gambling, interview found here

Grinols, Earl. Gambling in America: Costs and Benefits. Cambridge, 2004.

Hsu, Cathy H. C. Legalized Casino Gaming in the United States: The Economic and Social Impact. Haworth, 1999.

*Lears, T.J. Jackson. Something for Nothing: Luck in America. Viking, 2003.

*Light, Stephen, and Kathryn Rand. Indian Gaming and Tribal Sovereignty: The Casino Compromise. University Press of Kansas, 2005.

*Light, Stephen, and *Kathryn Rand. Indian Gaming Law and Policy. Carolina Academic Press, 2006.

*Mason, John Lyman, and Michael Nelson. Governing Gambling. Century Foundation Press, 2001.

*McGowan, Richard. Government and the Transformation of the Gaming Industry. Edward Elgar, 2001.

*McGowan, Richard. State Lotteries and Legalized Gambling: Painless Revenue or Painful Mirage. Praeger, 1994.

Morse, Edward A. and Goss, Ernest P., Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2007).

*Nelson, Michael, and John Lyman Mason, How the South Joined the Gambling Nation: The Politics of State Policy Innovation (LSU Press, 2007).

Pierce, Patrick. Gambling Politics: State Government and the Business of Betting. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004.

Reith, Gerda. Gambling: Who Wins? Who Loses? Prometheus Books, 2003.

Shaffer, Howard J., Matthew N. Hall, Joni Vander Bilt, and Elizabeth George, editors. Futures at Stake: Youth, Gambling, and Society. Dover, 1998.

Tren, Nottingham. Economics of Gambling. Routledge, 2002.

Vogel, Jennifer, editor. Crapped Out: How Gambling Ruins the Economy and Destroys Lives. Common Courage Press, 1997.

Volberg, Rachel A., and Richard Leone. When the Chips Are Down: Problem Gambling in America (Century Foundation Report). Century Foundation Press, 2001.

Volberg, Rachel A.  and Wray, Matt , Legal Gambling and Problem Gambling as Mechanisms of Social Domination? Some Considerations for Future Research, American Behavioral Scientist  51:1 (September 2007): 56-85.


*Carpenter, Dwayne E. “‘Alea jacta est: at the gaming table with Alfonso the Learned.” Journal of Medieval History 24.4 (1998) 333-45.

*Carpenter, Dwayne E. “Fickle Fortune: Gambling in Medieval Spain.” Studies in Philology 85.3 (1988), 267-78.

Castellani, Brian. Pathological Gambling: The Making of a Medical Problem. SUNY Press, 2000. [history of problem gambling]

Schwartz, David. Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling. Gotham, 2006.

Smith, John L. Sharks in the Desert: The Founding Fathers and Current Kings of Las Vegas. Barricade Books, 2005.


Barthelme, Frederick, and Stephen Barthelme. Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss. Harvest, 2001.

Berman, Linda, and Mary-Ellen Siegal. Behind the 8-Ball: A Recovery Guide for the Families of Gamblers. iUniverse, 2000.

Chin, John. A Way to Quit Gambling: For Problem Gamblers. Writer’s Digest Books, 2000.

*Grant, Jon E., and Marc Potenza. Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment. American Psychiatric Publishing, 2004.

Horvath, A. Thomas. Sex, Drugs, Gambling & Chocolate: A Workbook for Overcoming Addictions. Impact, 2003.

Humphrey, Hale. This Must Be Hell: A Look at Pathological Gambling. Writers Club Press, 2000.

Isaacs, Neil David. You Bet Your Life: The Burdens of Gambling. University Press of Kentucky, 2001.

Perkinson, Robert. The Gambling Addiction Patient Workbook. Sage, 2003.

*Potenza, Marc, H. Xian, et al. “Shared Genetic Contributions to Major Depression and Pathological Gambling.” Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005.


Mezrich, Ben. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Free Press, 2003.

Munchkin, Richard. Gambling Wizards: Conversations with the World's Greatest Gamblers. Huntington, 2003.

Sklansky, David, and Mason Malmuth. Gambling for a Living. Two Plus Two, 1997.

Non-gambling works by participants:

*Galston, William. Public Matters: Essays on Politics, Policy and Religion. Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

*Hoffman, John. “A Contextual Analysis of Differential Association, Social Control, and Strain Theories of Delinquency.” Social Forces, 2003.

*Nelson, Michael and Sidney Milkis, The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776-2007 (CQ Press, 2007).

*Skeel, David. Icarus in the Boardroom. Oxford, 2005.

*Stuntz, William. “Christian Legal Theory.” Harvard Law Review, 2003.

*Tanner, Kathryn. Economy of Grace. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2005.

*Wolfe, Alan. Does American Democracy Still Work? Yale, 2006.


About gambling:

-Alberta Gaming Institute
-American Gaming Association (has lots of statistics):
-National Indian Gaming Association:
-Gambling Law in the US:
-Roger Dunstan, Gambling in California, January 1997 (includes history of gambling in the US):
-UC Davis Indian Gambling Forum 2007:
-Vanier Institute of the Family

Gambling Addiction:

-The Recovery Village Ridgefield:
-National Council on Problem Gambling:
-Gamblers Anonymous:
-Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery:
-Anti-Gambling Handbook:


1.    Rounders (1998)
Matt Damon plays a reformed poker player who just can’t give up the game. He gets into the biggest game of his life.
2.    Casino (1995)
 Robert De Niro plays a character based on real-life gangster Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and tells the story of the mobs control in Vegas.
3.    Oceans 11 (1960/2001)
The original with the Rat Pack is still the classic movie about a gang set to rob the casino.
4.    Vegas Vacation (1997)
This is an installment of National Lampoon’s vacation series with all the usual whacky situations of the other comedies. The Griswolds head off for Las Vegas, as Clark got an extra bonus for developing a food preservative. The scene with Chevy Chase playing Blackjack against the dealer played by Shawn Wallace is priceless.
5.    The Big Town (1987)
Craps players will love this movie. Matt Dillon plays a small town gambler with a gift for shooting dice, who goes to Chicago to seek his fortune.
6.    Owning Mahowny
This movie shows the darker side of gambling addiction. The story is based on a true story about a bank executive who committed the largest one man fraud in Canadian history. This is not a great movie with an entertaining story line but neither is gambling addiction in true life. The fact that it was based on a true story gives it credence and makes it worth watching.
7.    The Hustler (1961)
Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason star in this ultimate gambling movie about pool hustlers. Gleason plays legendary Minnesota Fats who is challenged to a high stakes match by "Fast Eddie" Felson played by Newman.
8.    Bugsy (1991)
Bugsy tells the true story of legendary New York mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel who built the Flamingo Hotel and Casino which paved the way for the mob to take over Las Vegas.
9.    Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Steve McQueen plays a rising card shark who challenges a veteran player for the chance to be known as "The Man.". Long before Texas Hold’em Stud was the game.
10.    The Sting (1973)
When a mutual friend is killed by a mob boss, two con men, one experienced and one young seek revenge by pulling off the big con on the mob boss. Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the con men in this film that won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Paper Abstracts

The following paper abstracts were written six months before the October 2007 conference; the final papers delivered at the conference and published in the book to follow may reflect changes made after these abstracts were written.

Panel 1: The New Politics and Policy of Gambling

  1. "Ends and Means in State Lotteries: The Importance of a Good Cause"
    Charles T. Clotfelter and Philip J. Cook (Duke University)
  2. "The Politics of Sovereignty and the Federal Role in Gambling"
    Michael Nelson (Rhodes College)
  3. "The Morality of Indian Gaming: Negotiating a Different Terrain"
    Kathryn R.L. Rand and Steven A. Light (University of North Dakota)

Panel 2: Individual Behavior, Social Impact

  1. "Behavioral Measures of Risk-Taking"
    Rachel Croson, Matthew Fox and James Sundali (University of Pennsylvania)
  2. "Gambling with the Family?"
    John P. Hoffmann (Brigham Young University)
  3. "A Neuropsychiatric Perspective on Gambling and Morality"
    Marc Potenza (Yale University)

Panel 3: Theology, Gambling and Risk

  1. "The Memory of Sin"
    William Galston (Brookings Institution)
  2. "Grace and Gambling"
    Kathryn Tanner (University of Chicago)
  3. "The Puzzling History of the Criminal Law of Gambling"
    David A. Skeel, Jr. (University of Pennsylvania) and William Stuntz (Harvard University)

Panel 4: Gambling in American Culture

  1. "The Tale of Two 'Sins': Regulation of Gambling and Tobacco"
    Richard McGowan, S.J. (Boston College)
  2. "Beyond Pathology: The Cultural Meanings of Gambling"
    T. J. Jackson Lears (Rutgers University)
  3. "The Culture War Issue that Never Was: Why the Right and Left Have
    Overlooked Gambling"
    Alan Wolfe (Boston College)


Thursday, October 25, 2007


Kenneth Himes, O.F.M., Boston College

"Ends and Means in State Lotteries: The Importance of a Good Cause"

 Charles T. Clotfelter and Philip J. Cook, Duke University

"The Politics of Sovereignty and the Federal Role in Gambling"
 Michael Nelson, Rhodes College

"The Morality of Indian Gaming: Negotiating a Different Terrain"
 Kathryn R.L. Rand and Steven A. Light, University of North Dakota


 R. Shep Melnick, Boston College


Joseph Quinn, Boston College

"Behavioral Measures of Risk-Taking"
Rachel T.A. Croson, University of Texas, Dallas
James Sundali and Matthew Fox, University of Nevada, Reno

"Gambling with the Family"
John P. Hoffmann, Brigham Young University

"A Neuropsychiatric Perspective on Gambling and Morality"
 Marc Potenza, Yale University

 John Dombrink, University of California, Irvine

Friday, October 26, 2007


 Judith Wilt, Boston College

"The Memory of Sin"
William Galston, Brookings Institution

"Grace and Gambling"
Kathryn Tanner, University of Chicago

"The Puzzling History of the Criminal Law of Gambling"
 David A. Skeel, Jr., University of Pennsylvania
William Stuntz,  Harvard University

 Dwayne E. Carpenter, Boston College


David Quigley, Boston College

"The Tale of Two 'Sins:' Regulation of Gambling and Tobacco" 
Richard McGowan, S.J., Boston College

"Beyond Pathology: The Cultural Meanings of Gambling"
T. J. Jackson Lears, Rutgers University

"The Culture War Issue that Never Was: Why the Right and Left Have Overlooked Gambling"
Alan Wolfe, Boston College

Steven A. Light, University of North Dakota


Friday, Octber, 26, 2007


 Judith Wilt, Boston College


"The Memory of Sin"
William Galston, Brookings Institution

"Grace and Gambling"
Kathryn Tanner, University of Chicago

"The Puzzling History of the Criminal Law of Gambling"
 David A. Skeel, Jr., University of Pennsylvania
William Stuntz,  Harvard University

 Dwayne E. Carpenter, Boston College


David Quigley, Boston College

"The Tale of Two 'Sins:' Regulation of Gambling and Tobacco" 
Richard McGowan, S.J., Boston College

"Beyond Pathology: The Cultural Meanings of Gambling"
T. J. Jackson Lears, Rutgers University

"The Culture War Issue that Never Was: Why the Right and Left Have Overlooked Gambling"
Alan Wolfe, Boston College

Steven A. Light, University of North Dakota