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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life


gambling and the american moral landscape

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:
-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.

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