A World of Chance

Betting on Religion, Games, Wall Street

by Reuven Brenner, Gabrielle A. Brenner, Aaron Brown

Although financial markets often try to distance themselves from gambling, the two factors have far more in common than usually thought. When, historically, there were no financial institutions such as banks, lotteries constituted the ways by which expensive items were disposed of, and governments raised money quickly. Gambling tables fulfilled roles that venture capital and banking do today. 'Gamblers' created clearinghouses and sustained liquidity. When those gamblers bet on price distributions in futures markets, they were redefined as 'speculators'. Today they are called 'hedge fund managers' or 'bankers'. Though the names have changed, the actions undertaken have essentially stayed the same. This book shows how discussion on 'chance', 'risk', 'gambling', 'insurance', and 'speculation' illuminates where societies stood, where we are today, and where we may be heading.

  • Cambridge University Press; August 2008
  • ISBN: 9780511421310
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: A World of Chance
  • Author: Reuven Brenner; Gabrielle A. Brenner; Aaron Brown
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'Did you know that the modern insurance industry is a direct outgrowth of gambling? Did you know that poker provided one of the most important sources of capital for penniless Western frontiersmen in the United States? Did you know that major opera houses of Europe began as gambling halls with the theaters attached (history, if not always the quality of music, repeats itself in Las Vegas)? Do you know the real reason the NFL resists the legalization of sports betting in America? For the fascinating answers and insights into the politics, the finance and the economics of that over-maligned pastime, gambling, and, yes, including the surprising role it has frequently played in finance – read A World of Chance. The odds are strong that you will love it.' Henry G. Manne, Dean Emeritus, George Mason Law School