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United States Casino Stats

Table games: 24,286

Slot machines: 900,325

Poker tables: 6,110

Greyhound Tracks: 29

Jai Alai: 7

Off Track Betting: 87

Horse Racing: 144

Simulcasting: 175

United States Gambling History


A History of Gambling in the United States

Gambling in the United States – The Early Days
One look at the history of gambling in the US, and what you will see is a saga filled with excitement and irony. The United States has a long history of gambling in some form or the other. While gambling in its legal form has been around for a while, the illegal forms of gambling have been around as well. As one may expect, society has taken different stands toward gambling at different points in time. The various checks and regulations at various points of gambling’s colorful history bear testimony regarding this dynamic view.

To begin with, gambling did not originate in the US – it came to this country with immigrants from Europe, Asia – especially China, and other parts of the world. The immigrants adopted two differing attitudes towards gambling – those of Puritan origin and belief banned it outright while the other English settlers took a more liberal view. In the latter communities gambling was an accepted and popular activity.

The frontier spirit and the desire to explore new worlds have been likened to the gambling spirit. Both have elements of risk taking, the expectation of high returns, and opportunism. Despite being blamed for creating a problem in some of the early colonies, gambling and lotteries were also used by other communities to raise money. This was the first wave of gambling in the US and it lasted until the early 1800s, when it came under increasing attack from groups who were opposed to it.

Gambling in the United States – The Second Wave
The second wave started from the mid-1800s and lasted till the early 1900s. The exodus to the early Wild West and the Gold Rush were probably the cause for this wave. The early settlers on the west coast, notably miners, were people who personified the frontier spirit and they loved to gamble. The period between 1849 and 1855 was the high point of this resurgence in gambling and gambling establishments.

But this was not to last – public opinion and the establishment quickly turned against gambling and gamblers again, and soon it was banned in all the states where it had become popular. However, the irony of it was that all this did for gambling was to drive it underground. People found newer ways of circumventing the various laws that targeted specific gambling games. Some people adopted a very simple and highly effective approach: develop a variant of the banned game.

During the second wave, the regulations were intended to target the professional gambler more than gambling itself. There was a desire throw around society a cloak of respectability and also a general attempt to make people aware of the various ill effects of gambling. Despite these issues, the early laws against gambling were weak and not properly enforced. However, by the 1900s, stronger laws were framed and authorities also went about enforcing these laws strictly. Penalties were introduced both for running as well as playing gambling games. This made it difficult for people to associate themselves with gambling or gamblers.

However, this period lasted for just a while. By the 1930s, there was a gradual resurgence of gambling and gambling establishments started springing up again.

Gambling in the United States – The Third Wave
The period from the 1930s to the current time is the third wave of gambling, and the current wave is stronger than either of the earlier waves. The 1930s was when the state of Nevada legalized gambling. The Depression also led to a general atmosphere that was tolerant of legalized gambling, as many saw it as a way of reviving the economy. At the same time, there was a crackdown on illegal gambling, which had reached monumental proportions by then.

From the 1930s onwards, it has been a slow but steady process of consolidation for the gambling industry, a process that has taken the industry to dizzying heights. For instance the total gaming revenues in the US during the year 2005 was in excess of $30 billion.

The advent of the Internet has been one of the main causes for the huge upsurge in gambling. Online gambling has become very popular across the world, but in the United States it is a banned sport. However, offline gambling continues to remain popular as ever, with the traditional casinos doing roaring business. There does not seem to be any looking back for the industry.

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