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Gambling Politics: State Government and the Business of Betting

Patrick A. Pierce and Donald E. Miller
Gambling Politics: State Government and the Business of Betting
ISBN: 978-1-58826-293-6
ISBN: 978-1-58826-268-4
2004/240 pages/LC: 2004000802

"A broad-reaching, valuable and just plain interesting insight into the politics (and, inadvertently, the geography) of gambling in the USA."—Iain Hay, International Gambling Studies

"Provides both explanatory power and rich detail.... Gambling Politics [is] an important read for all students of the policy process."—Denise K. Von Herrmann, Perspectives on Politics

"An excellent synthesis of much of the public policy literature and its application to a specific policy area.... Highly recommended."—Choice


Legalized gambling has spread like wildfire through the United States, with only Hawaii and Utah still prohibiting all of its forms. The reason? Gambling has become the method of choice for states in search of additional revenue: in 2002 alone, state lottery sales exceeded $42 billion, netting nearly $14 billion in "voluntary taxes." Gambling Politics examines this dramatic development in contemporary state policymaking, as well as the shifting and often contentious politics accompanying gambling's spread.

Pierce and Miller present a multistate analysis of lottery and casino proposals to explain why states have—or have not—adopted various forms of gambling since 1966. Supplementing their research with case studies of Florida and Illinois, they provide insight into the process of policy diffusion, explore the symbolic threats associated with gambling, and assess the changing influence of religious and other interest groups. Gambling lost much of its stigma, the authors conclude, once state-run lotteries meant government was engaged in the "business of sin"—and citizen objections could no longer be heard over the din of interest-group lobbying.


Patrick A. Pierce is professor emeritus of political science at Saint Mary's College. The late Donald E. Miller was professor of mathematics at Saint Mary's College.


  • The Politics of Legalized Gambling.
  • A Brief History of Gambling.
  • Legalized Gambling and Policymaking.
  • Lottery Politics.
  • Casino Politics.
  • "The Camel's Nose": The Policy Context of Legalized Gambling.
  • The Future of Legalized Gambling.
  • Appendixes.