Long Before Las Vegas – History of Gambling in the US
It’s hard not to think of the bright lights and incessant rhythm of the Las Vegas Strip when you think of gambling. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, people are huddled around the blackjack and roulette tables in hopes of great success. Gambling has long been a topic of heated debate. However, gambling in the United States has a history that dates back long before Las Vegas appeared.
The game dates back to the early days of the settlers in the 17th century. Attitudes about the game varied across settlements, as each was founded by different members of the British colonies. The Puritans outlawed virtually any form of gambling, including dice, cards, and even private tables. There was a lot of hostility towards the idea of someone making gambling their profession. The English, on the other hand, viewed gambling as a pleasant and harmless distraction from everyday life and it was a popular pastime. Over time, people came to blame gambling for the problems of the new colonies, and its acceptance declined.
Once the beginning of the 19th century rolled around, the game was still prevalent throughout the United States, but it had begun to take new forms. Lotteries were a very popular way of raising revenue for the states. The proceeds from the lottery winnings were used to build public works buildings such as schools and churches. Another form of game that emerged in the 19th century was horse racing. It wasn’t as big or as organized as horse racing today, but this is the first time we’ve seen gambling take on new forms.
As settlers from the United States moved west, so did gambling. It began to take a more organized form in the casino sense. However, the purpose of these establishments was not so much to raise income for the community but to take advantage of those who made the long journey west. During this time in the 19th century, criticism of the game on moral grounds increased. Scandals at lottery institutions and more permanent gambling casinos that preyed on people were badly affected by social reform and eventually most forms of gambling were banned across the country.
When the gold rush hit California in the mid-1800s, people were eager to spend their newfound wealth and gambling found its new mecca. Gambling spread across the state like wildfire, with both public and private parties dependent on revenue. Over time, the popular anti-gambling mentality made its way to western California and laws were put in place to limit gambling. At the end of the 19th century, most forms of gambling were illegal, but this, of course, did not stop people, it simply kept them out of the sight of the authorities.
The limits to gambling began to decline in the 20th century and when the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, the public’s attitude towards gambling decreased significantly. Suddenly, gambling was seen not as a crime, but as a way to help stimulate the economy. Forms of gambling UFABET like bingo and horse racing made a big comeback during this time period. It was also during the 1930s that organized crime professionals formed the gaming industry in the state of Nevada. There is still a fine line between the world of crime and the legal political world when it comes to gambling and forms of gambling other than government regulated lotteries are illegal in most states. There will surely be another change in how the game is viewed in this country and there will probably never be an agreement on the moral implications of such a practice, but the game is sure to continue to evolve.