In what period of history did people start playing? The exact period is unknown, but believe it or not, pairs of dice have been found in Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years old! Also, games of chance were played in ancient China, where poker is believed to have originated. In 1492, during the landing of Columbus, the Native Americans were betting on the outcome of a game similar to LaCross. So when did it all start in America? Keep reading.
Gambling in America began with the first English settlers in the 17th century. Their traditions included card games that were part of the aristocratic lifestyle. However, when the Puritans colonized Massachusetts Bay, they were free to create their own culture, which included hostility towards gambling. They banned the possession of dice, cards, and board games in their communities. However, the game prevailed in other localities. Gambling was considered by many English settlers to be a suitable form of entertainment.
The Virginia Colony was the first to realize that lotteries could raise capital for local governments. Finally, the 13 colonies were collecting lottery revenue. The proceeds helped build universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Lotteries also funded churches and libraries. Founding fathers George Washington, Ben Franklin, and John Hancock were promoters of specific lotteries for public works projects. When the Revolutionary War began, the Continental Congress voted for a $ 10 million lottery to fund the war.
In the early 19th century, taverns and street houses allowed dice and card games, creating the first version of casinos. As the population of the United States began to increase, the casinos became more luxurious. The Mississippi River was an important trade route where merchants and businessmen brought their cash. Riverboat gambling became a favorite pastime and New Orleans became the gambling capital of the United States. In 1849, the game followed the pioneers to California during the gold rush. Gambling establishments began to flourish there and west of the Mississippi, including Nevada. In the late 1800s, roulette was adopted from France and the slot machine was invented.
Much of the public viewed gambling as a social evil because it was linked to alcoholism and prostitution. The reformers convinced jurisdictions to close the Dens of Iniquity. Most states also discontinued lotteries. The riverboat game dried up with the arrival of the railroad. At the turn of the century, only Nevada allowed gambling.
In 1910, Nevada finally closed the door to gambling, leaving horse racing the only legal entity in America. In 1912, Arizona and New Mexico obtained statehood on the condition that gambling remained prohibited. During the Prohibition era of the 1920s, the public’s thirst for gambling coincided with that of alcohol. Casinos went underground along with speakeasies. In 1931, Nevada re-legalized gambling and remained the only state to do so until the second half of the century. Gambling flourished underground when organized crime invested heavily in Nevada and prospered by controlling off-track bets and the lottery numbers.
During the 1950s, the United States Senate investigated organized crime’s link to illegal gambling. Finally, the mob left Las Vegas. The states wiped out the sportsbooks by legalizing backcountry gambling and numbers games. Atlantic City approved the game in 1976, the Indian Gambling Law It was approved by Congress in the late 1980s. Riverboat gambling at the docks returned, racetracks installed slot machines, while Las Vegas reinvented itself by building mega resorts during the 1990s.
The American Gaming Association reported that there are 832,988 slot machines spread across 1,151 casinos and racetracks in 44 states with more on the way. It seems that the thirst for play of American culture matches that of the Egyptian pharaohs! The United States has embraced gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment.