Some fans of the series Star Trek are confused about whether gambling takes place in the universe of the show. This confusion stems from a line in the movie Star Trek First Contact. In this motion picture, Captain Picard states that the United Federation of Planets does not use money as it has caused so many problems throughout history. It is easy to assume from this that the characters of Star Trek do not partake in gambling.
However, when the television series is watched there are multiple examples of the various strange and wonderful aliens partaking in wager based games. Money is substituted for “credits” which serve as a universal currency.
In the episode “Patterns of Force” of the original series, Mr Spock talks about gambling. He states that after trying it he can understand why so many people from Earth enjoy doing it. He also explains that he finds it attractive that no matter how often you play, you can never tell what the outcome will be. This episode spends a significant amount of time showing how an alien would view the very human act of gambling. In the end, it shows that it can be a positive experience.
Gambling is often featured in the spin off series Deep Space Nine, which was broadcast parallel to the more popular Next Generation series. The alien character, known as Quark to the crew, can commonly be seen on screen trying his luck at the gambling dens within the space station. In the episode “Shadowplay”, one of the Bajoran aliens is shown to owe a substantial amount after gambling.
Gambling is even prescribed as a means of relaxation in the episode “Defiant”. Doctor Bashir suggests to Major Kira that this activity would alleviate her stress. He even went as far as to give her a small number of tokens for her to use. Okalar is known as a high roller to the people of Deep Space Nine and is often shown making extremely high stakes wagers. The best examples of this can be seen in the episodes “Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang” and “The Abandoned”.