If you were to study the way gambling developed in the United States, you will see a history that is both exciting and very ironic. The history of gambling in this country is fascinating, with much of it being illegal as well. Many changes in the industry have been linked directly to the way society perceives this industry. Historically speaking, those changes can best be described in three different stages.

The First Wave of American Gambling

First, gambling is not an American invention. Rather, it was brought to this country by European and Asian settlers. Those who were or Puritan origin instantly banned it. The English settlers, by contrast, were far more liberal. They accepted the activity and it was very popular. It is believed that the gambling spirit is directly linked to the frontier spirit, with similarities including:

  • Wanting to explore.
  • Being ready to take risk.
  • Expecting high returns without being sure.
  • Opportunism.

Many early colonies experienced significant problems as a direct result of gambling, but other communities were able to survive as a result of this industry by raising money. This first wave of gambling continued until the start of the 19th century, when attitudes towards it became more negative.

The Second Wave of American Gambling

The second wave started in the 19th century and continued until the start of the 20th. It is believed that this wave was caused by the Gold Rush and the Wild West exodus. Settlers, mainly miners, loved to gamble, embodying the frontier spirit. Between 1849 and 1855, gambling establishments were started everywhere, and they were hugely popular.

However, people started to see these establishment as seedy. Public opinion prevailed and the gambling establishments were made illegal. The result was, however, that it simply went underground, with people choosing to break the law, or test the law by developing new variants to gambling games. This was because regulations focused not on the game, but on the gambler. Laws finally became stronger at the start of the 20th century, when playing and running games started to become illegal. However, by the 1930s, things changed again, leading to the third wave.

The Third Wave of American Gambling

The third wave started in 1931, when the state of Nevada made gambling legal. This wave is the strongest out of the three and still continues today. During the Great Depression, legalized gambling became tolerated, because people had to make their money somehow, and gambling establishments provided work. At the same time, illegal gambling continued and the crackdown on this was very successful.

Since the 1930s, the world of gambling has changed. Suddenly, there are casino resorts such as the Bicycle Hotel and Casino are sprouting up all over the country and abroad. People understand the fantastic contribution these resorts make to the overall economy, with revenues exceeding $30 billion in 2005 and having grown tremendously since then. In fact, the gambling industry is one of the few industries that continued to grow during the recession of 2007!

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