The history of gambling and casinos in the United States is a very colorful and interesting one. At some point in American history, gambling was illegal, and until now, there are some states that still consider gambling a crime. But times have changed, and gambling is now legalized and regulated in many US states.
During the British colonial period, attitudes toward gambling was somewhat mixed. The early Puritans balked at any form of games involving dice and cards. But in the 18th and 19th centuries, gambling was treated as a recreational activity or pastime.
In the 1800s, casinos, saloons and other gambling houses were established in the young American mainland, especially in New Orleans. Games like blackjack and poker were popular during those times, and riverboats plying the Mississippi River carried gamblers engaging in big-time gambling.
The California Gold Rush soon transferred the center of gambling activities to San Francisco. The state of California legalized and regulated casinos and gambling saloons. Wealth acquired from the gold rush found its way to organized gambling establishments and somewhat contributed to the economic boom of the Wild West.
By the late 1800s, however, California began to criminalize gambling, followed Nevada in 1910. Gambling was also illegal throughout the US mainland. Gamblers resorted to illegal card rooms, private clubs and speakeasies. The Prohibition didn’t stop gamblers from enjoying both gambling and alcohol in secret locations.
The tide turned in the 1930s when Nevada made gambling legal once again, and 20 other states allowed racetrack betting. To this day, Nevada is the number one destination for gamblers, most of which flock to the Strip in Las Vegas. Atlantic City in the state of New Jersey also followed suit with their own share of top-of-the-line casinos and resorts starting in the late 70s.
A landmark Supreme Court decision in 1987 opened the door for Native Americans to set up casinos within reservations. This sparked a casino boom that created several Native American casinos that continue to rival Las Vegas casinos for supremacy of the American gambling industry. A casino-building boom started in the 1970s and continues to this day all over the country.
With the advent of the Internet in the late 1990s, land-based casinos face stiff competition from online casinos. But the casinos are unfazed and have managed to survive the onslaught. After all, the centuries-old US Casino history gives the assurance that casinos are here to stay for a very, very long time.