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Gambling History: How Far Back Do Gambling Games Go? Possibly With the Egyptian Pharaohs
When in history did people start gambling? The exact time 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, when Columbus landed, Native Americans bet on the outcome of a game resembling LaCross. So when did it all start in America? Continue reading.
Gambling in America began with the first English settlers in the 1600s. Their traditions included card games which were part of the aristocratic way of life. However, when the Puritans colonized Massachusetts Bay, they were given the freedom to create their own culture, which included hostility towards gambling. They banned the possession of dice, cards, and board games in their communities . Nevertheless, the game prevailed in other localities. Many English settlers considered gambling to be an appropriate form of entertainment.
The Colony of Virginia was the first to realize that lotteries could raise capital for local governments. Eventually, the 13 settlements increased lottery revenue. Profits helped build universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Lotteries have also funded churches and libraries. Founding fathers George Washington, Ben Franklin and John Hancock were the 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 1800s, taverns and roadhouses allowed dice and card games, creating the first version of casinos. As America’s population began to increase, casinos became more lavish. The Mississippi River was a major trade route where merchants and entrepreneurs brought their money. Gambling on riverboats became a favorite pastime and New Orleans became America’s gambling capital. In 1849, gambling followed 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 by 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. Reformers convinced the courts to shut down the Dens of iniquity. Most states have also halted lotteries. The river game dried up with the advent of the railway. By the end of the century, only Nevada allowed gambling.
In 1910, Nevada finally shut the door on gambling, making horse racing betting the only legal entity in America. In 1912, Arizona and New Mexico were granted statehood on the condition that gambling remain prohibited. During the Prohibition era of the 1920s, the public’s thirst for gambling matched that of alcohol. Casinos have gone underground with speakeasies. In 1931, Nevada again legalized gambling and remained the only state to do so until the second half of the century. Gambling thrived underground as organized crime made large investments in Nevada and thrived by controlling off track betting and the number lottery.
During the 1950s, the US Senate investigated the link between organized crime and illegal gambling. Eventually, the crowd left Las Vegas. States have bankrupted bookmakers by legalizing off-track betting and number games. Atlantic City approved the game in 1976, the Indian gambling law was approved by congress in the late 1980s. Gambling on docked riverboats made a comeback, racetracks installed slot machines while Las Vegas reinvented itself by building mega resorts in the 1980s. 1990.
The American Gaming Association reported that there are 832,988 slot machines at 1,151 casinos and racetracks in 44 states with more on the way. It seems that American culture’s thirst for play matches that of the Egyptian pharaohs! America has embraced gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment.
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