Cheaters Never Prosper? Winning by Deception in Purely Professional Games of Pure Chance

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 15 (2):266-284 (2020)
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I argue that in purely professional games of pure chance, such as slot machines, roulette, baccarat or pachinko, any instance of cheating that successfully deceives the judge can be ‘part of the game’. I examine, and reject, various proposals for the ‘ethos’ that determines how we ought to interpret the formal rules of games of pure chance, such as being a test of skill, a matter of entertainment, a display of aesthetic beauty, an opportunity for hedonistic pleasure, and a fraternal activity. Ultimately, I argue that ‘winning the benefit’ is the only ethos that can apply in purely professional games of pure chance, and that if we interpret the formal rules according to this ethos, cheating that is undertaken with respect for the judge’s authority, but that attempts to cause the judge of the game to ‘voluntarily’ relinquish the benefit of the game by deceiving them into thinking that the formal rules of the game have been followed, is impermissible but acceptable cheating, and is therefore within, rather than outside, the game. Here, I define ‘games of pure chance’ as games in which chance is the only determinant of winning.
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