Historical and Cultural Stages That Contributed to US Gambling’s Development
In the United States, gambling has a long and complex history shaped by religious, cultural, and legal factors. Today it looks very different than it did many years ago, with online gambling transforming the industry.
Early gambling and indigenous-owned casinos
The Native Americans were gambling long before the colonists came to America. They would risk items like bows and arrows, copper beads, and hatchets on games of chance. Colonists would see them bet on the outcome of sporting events. Some tribes used peach pits as dice, and others had dice made from animal bones. It isn’t surprising that they own casinos today.
In recent years, the number of these casinos in the U.S. has grown to over 500. One of them is the Gun Lake Casino, which launched Play Gun Lake in 2021 in partnership with Parx Casino MI. The main Parx Casino is located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and offers 260,000 square feet of gaming and entertainment.
The colonial period
Oliver Cromwell controlled England after the Civil War. He tried to stamp out games of chance but failed. His repressive measures led to the excesses of the time of Charles II, whose love of gambling was legendary. A love of games of chance spread throughout England. Gambling in the English-speaking world became a powerful social force.
It wasn’t long before gambling spread to the North American colonies. It was central to colonial life, where horse races, lotteries, and card games were popular forms of entertainment. The onset of the revolutionary war didn’t slow down gambling either.
Growing anti-gambling sentiment started by the mid-19th century, and many states began to pass laws to restrict or prohibit gambling. Gambling went underground and didn’t emerge again until much later. During the Prohibition era, there was a surge in illegal gambling. In the early 20th century, organized crime syndicates took over the industry.
The 1930s to current day
In the 1930s, Nevada legalized casino gambling in an effort to generate revenue during the Great Depression. Atlantic City and New Jersey followed suit. Today, many states have legalized gambling, and the US gambling market size has become a multibillion-dollar industry.
There is a legacy that goes from the early settlers in America to today’s visitors to online casinos. In 2013, New Jersey was the first state to permit an online casino. Today they generate billions of dollars of revenue for a number of states every year.