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 Three: Internet gambling
Thanks to the internet, poker has moved from smoky back-rooms to people's houses as the latest suburban craze.
An estimated 40 million people visit online gambling sites and they're predominantly young people. Spurred on by hit TV shows, internet poker has become the chosen pastime for thousands of school kids.
It may improve their maths skills, but huge numbers are now getting into serious debt while addiction rates among adolescents are twice that of adult gamblers.
James Silver investigates what's driving the internet gambling phenomenon and questions players, politicians and the internet companies about what they are doing to address the social problems online gambling creates.