Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Stuart Banner

The United States of America: a land of speculation [excerpt]

Is speculation ingrained into American culture? Economists dating back to as early as John McVickar have analyzed the American enthusiasm directed toward speculation. History indicates that the American approach to enterprise has differed from its European counterparts since its inception. In this shortened excerpt from Speculation: A History of the Fine Line between Gambling and Investing, author Stuart Banner discusses the economic risks taken in early American history, and the cultural significance of speculation in the United States today.

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Why is it legal to bet on the stock market but not the Super Bowl?

The upcoming Super Bowl will be the most wagered-on event of the year in the United States, just like it is every year. In most of the country, these bets are unenforceable. That is, if the loser doesn’t pay the winner, there’s nothing legal the winner can do about it. Agreements to risk money on the outcome of a sporting event, an election, or most other events are not enforceable contracts.

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