Casino gaming has a complicated history. From surviving wars, laws, and going from legal to illegal (and back) a whole host of times. Despite this, gambling remains one of America’s favourite pastimes, with huge varieties of games not only available in grand casinos across the nation, but online as well. So, with somewhere like Griffon Casino, for example, you can bring the magic of the Las Vegas Strip right into the comfort of your own home.
But it wasn’t always this easy, and you might be wondering just how these games stood the test of time. So, join us as we scourer the pages of the history books for the most significant dates in the history of casino laws in America.
Despite the first evidence of dice dating back as early as ancient Egypt, gambling in America really saw a rise in the 1800s. This year saw the first games of Craps played on boats, saloons and cotton fields. On top of this, Denmark Vesey, a black slave, was able to buy his freedom with his Lottery winnings, making him one of the most famous Lottery winners of all time. However, in 1830, all Lotteries were banned in the US, and this ban wasn’t lifted again until 1960.
In 1827, The Crescent City House opened in New Orleans. This was the first 24-hour, full-service casino, offering complimentary meals and a buffet. In 1832, the first casino in Washington DC was opened – The Palace of Fortune. This casino was popular amongst the political elite of the US. Following this, over the next 15-20 years, multiple states such as Pennsylvania, New York and Louisiana passed various laws banning gambling.
1858 saw the rise of riverboat gambling across the country, despite still being illegal. Mississippi riverboat gambling is where the game of Poker gained traction in the US.
In 1861, Nevada prohibited gambling. There, it was a felony to gamble until the law was reversed in 1869, and, by 1962, every state apart from Kentucky and Missouri had put laws in place to ban state lotteries.
The 1900s saw even more changes to the world of gambling, when The City of Traverse, built by famous Chicago gambler Big Jim O’Leary, set sail on Lake Michigan. The City of Traverse was the first vessel in the US that was completely dedicated to gambling.
The first slot machine with automated payouts was introduced by Charles Fey in 1905. This machine was made up of three reels, unique symbols, and was known as The Liberty Bell. The Liberty Bell would later become the inspiration for every other slot machine to follow.
1909 saw Nevada ban all forms of gambling, and Blackjack, then more commonly known as Twenty-One, was introduced in Evansville, Indiana. Shortly after, however, in 1913, Nevada lifted its gambling ban, legalizing open gambling, but still not commercial. New York legalised parimutuel gambling at this time.
The Las Vegas Strip
In 1931, Nevada suffered from a deep recession. Whilst looking for ways to boost its economy, commercial gambling was legalised fully. Close by, the building of the Hoover Dam was taking place, which bought lots of tired construction workers into the town, taking up gambling as a way to relax.
Just a short 10 years later, El Rancho, the first Las Vegas casino, opened its doors on what would later become known as The Strip. On top of this, famous mobster Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel established a wire service that could inform bookies of horse racing odds.
Furthermore, in 1949, Nevada legalised sports betting on professional sports and horse racing, and in 1955, The Nevada State Gaming Control Board was created to regulate gambling operations.
Horse racing, sports betting and gaming in general saw a rise over the following years, with congress passing the Interstate Horse Racing Act in 1978 – allowing people to bet on horse racing in different states.
The modern day
Following the launch of the first online casino in 1994, congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, which prohibited anyone accepting money from someone involved in illegal online gambling.
Now, in the modern day, there are around 31 states that have approved gambling, or have introduced some sort of gambling laws in America. Many others seem to be heading in that direction too, with only a handful of states, including Utah, Wisconsin, and Idaho having not made any indications of legalising gambling. Despite this, with the regulation and many laws to keep players safe at both online and land-based casinos, casino gaming in the USA remains one of the nations’ favourite pastimes, to this day.
Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly.
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