Legalizing Gambling

Legalizing Gambling

Gambling for money is illegal in Norway, as long as this is not part games approved by the state. In practical terms, this means that you are considered a criminal if, for instance, you are playing poker while in Norway.

However, is playing poker, private sports betting, and other types of gambling real crime?

Gambling is Peaceful

Liberalism deals in clear boundaries between right and wrong, peace and strife, legitimate and criminal. A typical list of crimes, meaning actions that initiate force against others, is murder, rape, physical injury, kidnapping, robbery, theft, fraud, vandalism, and threats.

Gambling is not in one of these categories, and is therefore peaceful and legitimate.

The reason why we can say this, is that gambling, playing for money, does not initiate force against anyone. Essentially, all participants are involved voluntarily, and the interactions of peaceful individuals is a key concept in liberalism. Even though we do not necessarily like the actions, we still have to tolerate them.

What about the Consequences?

Many will claim that while gambling may not quite be a crime, it still causes crime. For instance, someone addicted to gambling may embezzle money from the business he works for in order to finance his gambling, or gamblers may accuse each other of cheating and become violent toward one another.

This still does not change the fact that gambling in and of itself is a peaceful activity. In a liberal society, real crime is dealt with harshly, and there will, generally speaking, be a greater motivation for people to take responsibility for their own lives. Factors like these will deter criminal activity and make each individual better able to take care of him- or herself.

Prohibitions Make Matters Worse

Prohibiting essentially peaceful activities, such as gambling, makes matters worse. Prohibition forces gambling houses underground, so confrontations between disagreeing parties are outside the control of the authorities.

Prohibition also contributes to erasing the difference between real and pseudo-crime, which causes a decrease in respect for the law. Thirdly, prohibition leads to the formation of mafias that take control over such establishments, using them to launder money from real crime, and so on.

For all these reasons, liberalists want to legalize gambling without any kind of governmental regulation.


  • For all intents and purposes, gambling is illegal in Norway, which means that it is considered a crime
  • In liberalism, crime is an action that initiates force against others
  • Playing for money is a voluntary and peaceful activity, and therefore is not a crime
  • Any criminal consequences of gambling will be dealt with harshly in a liberal society
  • Prohibition does not help, it just makes the situation worse



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