Gambling in America: Bet You Didn’t Know This

Most of us associate gambling in the United States with cities like Las Vegas, when in fact, gambling was used, in part, to fund the original 13 colonies. Gambling actually was one of the causes of friction between the Colonies and Britain prior to the American Revolution. Gambling has been a part of this country since its inception, although it is still controlled and maintained by a variety of rules and regulations on a statewide basis.

Here is a quick look at gambling in America and some interesting facts we bet you didn’t know.

  • In the country’s early days, New Orleans emerged as the gambling center of the United States.
  • The Gold Rush of 1849 increased the number of prospectors and gamblers in Northern California. It wasn’t long before San Francisco replaced New Orleans as the capital of gambling in the U.S.
  • As Westward expansion continued in the mid-1800’s cities like Deadwood, Denver, Kansas City, Dodge City and others became major gambling centers with lavish gambling houses and where gamblers were seen as the elite. Riverboat gamblers were particularly noted for their expensive jewelry and smart outfits.
  • Horse racing became a form of entertainment for the wealthy in the mid to late 1800s, with, of course, gambling a big part of “the sport”.
  • Many believe the roots of organized crime started with gambling and drinking houses in Chicago in the later 1800s. It would become a problem for the city for generations.
  • In the early 1900’s most gambling was forced “underground” by political and social forces in the country.
  • Horse racing began making a comeback in the 1920s and through the Depression of the 1930s, some gambling like Bingo was legalized to help churches increase funding.
  • In the 1930s and 1940s, gambling was largely an illegal enterprise, operated by such “gangsters” as Bugsy Deigel.
  • In the 1950s and 1960s, legalized gambling in Las Vegas and Nevada began to reshape the state, creating it as the center of gambling in the United States.
  • In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, gambling expanded to places like Atlantic City and along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.
  • Today, 18 states have legalized commercial casinos and 30 have some form of legalized gambling.

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