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. The following infographics illustrates gambling’s more recent history, depicting its most pivotal moments across the country, as well as showing you which states make the most revenue from gambling.