Gambling and Risk Taking: Wagering part of the American Dream’s pursuit Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · May 29, 2019 at 10:50 am A University of Nevada, Las Vegas sociology professor said Tuesday that gambling reflects the risks inherent in modern capitalism and the pursuit of the American Dream and that its growth is being led in part by growing income equality. Dmitri Shalin, a professor of sociology at UNLV and director of the Center for Democratic Culture, said the growth of casinos across the U.S. and the past year’s expansion of sports betting continues to normalize gambling.In comments at the 17th International Conference on Gambling & Risk Taking at Caesars Palace and produced by UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, Shalin said the big-time capitalists of the 19th century who pursued their ventures where essentially gamblers willing to risk it all but at the same time trying to find ways break the rules and be cut throat to be successful. People who gamble at a casino or racetrack looking to strike it big have that same mentality, but many are more likely to put themselves at risk much like those heading West in the 1800s to prospect gold. There’s been a growing disparity in the economy between people at the upper and lower ends of the spectrum, Shalin said. Those with a college education are likely to have a lifetime income of $900,000 compared to closer to $2 million for those with a degree. Shalin said betting parlors and off-track betting are most popular with working-class men. Given their limited resources, however, they’re even more willing to hope for a miracle that doesn’t come. “They are working dead-end jobs with no prospect of rising up and then investing in a chance to suddenly make it big winning something,” Shalin said. “That’s an attractive proposition psychologically even if it further limits your resources. They’re looking for an easy way out even though it’s highly unrealistic.” They hope at a minimum that the next throw of the dice can provide some emotional relief because the material gains are limited, Shalin said. They are comforted by others who they associate that have the same pursuit and can talk and share with each other. “I think gambling is part of the expression of the American Dream because the country was built on the notion that unless you take a gamble you can’t succeed, “Shalin said. “You got to stake value on the chance of the outcome and then try to cut the corners like loading the dice and card counting to find every opportunity to increase your chances.” Shalin talked about how legendary professional gambler and high roller Nicholas Andrea Dandolos – better known as “Nick the Greek” – was eulogized in 1966, describing him as one of the American capitalists because gamblers are forced to take a chance. “The American Dream and gambling are very much related to that mystique,” Shalin said. “It’s a matter of effort and that if you try harder you have what it takes to succeed.” The spread of gambling, however, doesn’t help equalize the chances of those at the upper end and those near the bottom, Shalin said. If anything, it helps those who have the capital, he said. “They have the advantage that’s no difference from having loaded dice,” Shalin said.