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USA Gambling History


Professional Bettor
Feb 12, 2022
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Gambling has always been a part of American history, starting right from the American Indians, who loved to play cards and dice. When Christopher Columbus arrived in America, he and his crew also brought more cards and dice with them, as well as the knowledge of different games from other parts of the world. Once the early colonists began to settle in the country, the public perception of gambling started to change, with some colonies even banning the possession of dice, cards and table games, even in private homes. But later the attitude towards gambling slowly transformed – as well as the standard card games, betting on wrestling matches, dog fights and rat fights, became increasingly common.

Gambling has been banned and then legalized for several times in the USA, and it always came back stronger than before. For example, the arrival of the French colonists to New Orleans in 1718 led to the start of more luxurious gambling centers, designed to look elegant yet over the top. This is the style that has led to many of the casinos we are familiar with in the US today.

The lottery, which was founded in Europe, became emerging in America in 18th century, with many colonies holding lotteries in order to raise money for their ventures. Betting on horse races also became more popular, although, it was more casual betting amongst horse owners and friends rather the officially organized races we see today.

More and more gambling centers were opened during the next century, especially in smaller river towns, as these would be frequently visited by farmers and traders traveling along the many waterways connected to the Mississippi River. New Orleans and San Francisco were the nation’s leading gambling centers in the mid 19th century. Professional gamblers also became more common during this time, with many taking advantage of the travelers who would always be carrying lots of cash.

The popularity of gambling continued to grow, with many of the early US presidents also enjoying a variety of games. At the height of the Great Depression in 1931, gambling centers were in extremely high demand, and full-scale gambling soon became legalized. Nevada was the first state to do this, mostly because it wanted a way to stimulate the economy and raise state revenue, without increasing taxes. 1973 saw the first ‘pure casino’ company being traded on the New York Stock Exchange, and in 1989, the first destination casino resort was launched in Las Vegas. Extravagant casinos, as well as smaller, more private venues, began opening up in many states across America, and in 2007, the gross revenue for gaming in the US reached a new record, topping $92 billion.

Many states followed suit not long after, resulting in an explosion of gambling all over America.

Gambling In The US​

The United States of America is one of the biggest commercial gambling market in the entire world and boasts of more than a thousand land-based casinos in total. Each state in the country has its own specific law regarding casinos to which each player must adhere.

The two most popular places for land-based casino gambling in the USA are Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey. These cities have some of the biggest and the best land-based casinos in the country and scores of people come to gamble here.

The vast majority of the land-based casinos in the United States today are tribal casinos. This basically refers to Native American gaming, and is related to casinos that include bingo halls and other gambling operations, that are situated on Indian reservations or tribal land in the United States.​

The History of Land Based Casino:

The history of land based casinos dates’ way back to the 15th century at a time when the land was ruled by Wild West Saloons, cow boys and gun-toting gangsters. The early land based casinos were established by the British American colonies and while gambling was not regarded as legal activity there were no restrictions imposed upon them.​

Riverboat Casinos:

New Orleans became the place to be for land based casinos with the advent of riverboat casinos in the 18th century. This was the time period when gambling establishments experienced a boom in the country and gamblers from all over the country would flock to riverboat casinos in New Orleans and placed bets on boat races as well as popular card games.​

Casinos in the Wild Wild West:

It didn’t take long for land casinos to start springing up in the Wild West and there were people from all over the country that came to the West due to the Gold Rush in the 1850s when gold was discovered in California. San Francisco then replaced New Orleans as the gambling capital of the United States but with time strict laws were put into place to control the gambling activity in the city and it quickly lost that place.

Nevada Takes Over Casinos

Before gambling was made legal in the state of Nevada, there were plenty of people who would come to visit the land based casinos in the city. The Golden Gate Casino was established in 1906 and quickly became the longest-running and first gambling establishment. The original building is still standing and has renovations of over $12 million spent on it.​

Gambling and the Gangsters:

The early part of the 20th century saw lots of land based casino establishments become a front for mob bosses and gangsters. Organized criminals would often be found in gambling establishments and once Nevada made gambling legal most of the most famous mobsters in the United States took the opportunity for developing their very own land based casinos in Las Vegas.​

Tribal Casinos:

It can be safely said that the vast majority of casinos in the US today are owned and operated by tribes. They are referred to as tribal casinos and currently there are over 500 casinos in the country, which are run by over 250 tribes in more than 30 states. 1979 is seen as the birth year of Native American Gaming, when the first Indian casino was established in Florida by the Seminole tribe.

Tribal casinos are required by law to contribute their annual revenues to trust funds, controlled by the state. The funds are distributed amongst the local community, in order to cover the costs of maintenance, expansion and amongst other tribes, who don’t own any gaming operations in the state. Indian gaming has been shrouded by controversy ever since its inception, which generally revolves around the morality and immorality of casino gambling.

The profits, earned by the tribal casinos, have allowed the majority of the native communities to thrive and become economically independent. Tribal casinos in the United States today must comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, along with other federal laws.

Land Based Casinos in the United States Today:

There are lots of land based casinos in the United States today, and we have reviewed the top USA casinos that are offering the best games. Today the gambling industry in the United States is worth billions of dollars and land based casinos are reaping the benefits.

Americans love to gamble and a land based casino can earn up to $100 billion in revenue annually! Gambling in the United States sure has come a long way and recently over 70 million Americans actively gamble at land based casinos throughout the country.​