First broadcast August 2005
Gambling today is a two trillion dollar industry, and with the internet getting in on the game, its dynamism shows no sign of abating.
But how did the industry grow and expand to become such an important economic engine? And what are the consequences for us all as we become a planet of gamblers?
In a new four-part series for BBC World Service, James Silver investigates the boom in gambling around the globe.
Part One: Atlantic City
Looking at how the gaming industry is increasingly used by governments as a catalyst for economic regeneration, the series begins in the US.
The story of Atlantic City in New Jersey is a typical one: once America's most famous seaside holiday resort, it was by the 1970s a poor, deprived and crime-ridden city.
As a desperate last throw of the dice, the state government decided to bring in casinos to reverse the city's decline. But has it worked?