When you look at the gambling scene in the US, you'll notice that most states don't encourage it. In some provinces, it is also illegal to gamble. With such tight rules and regulations surrounding it, how did the Americans start gambling in the first place?
Makes one wonder, right?
We’ll tell you an interesting fact. Gambling has been around for millenniums now!
And we aren’t talking about the US exclusively. It has been a popular leisure activity in every culture. Our main goal with this post is to shine a light on the existence of gambling throughout different eras.
History of Gambling in the United States
The Ancient Times (2000 BC) Not many people know this, but the history of gambling dates to 2000 BC. It’s not something that was discovered recently, it has been around for centuries now. Encyclopedia Britannica reveals that in ancient tombs in North and South America loaded dice were discovered by archaeologists. Now if you're familiar with gambling, you'll know what loaded dice are. For those who don't know, these dice are weighted to make a number pop-up more often when you play any game of chance.
Dice are probably the oldest gambling equipment. In those days, they were carved from sheep bones and popularly called knucklebones. They are a part of many cultures and are mentioned in several ancient scripts. One example would be in the Mahabharata, which is an ancient Indian philosophy text written over 2500 years ago. Also, in the New Testament of the Bible, the Roman soldiers throw dice to decide who gets the robe of Jesus. Interestingly, roman bone dice have been found and dated to the 1st and 3rd centuries AD.
The Middle Ages
Native Americans enjoyed playing games of chance during tribal ceremonies. This was hundreds of years before the colonization of North America. One of the most common games (that we know of) involved tossing five stones or bones with different markings into a bowl/basket. They placed wagers before the game started and the results were declared based on the combinations.
During the Great Awakening, the Evangelical Christians pronounced gambling as a sin and dangerous to society. Since then, there has been hesitation amongst individuals towards gambling. In October 1774, it was stated that the colonists will discourage any type of gambling especially betting on horse races and cockfights.
In the 19th century, however, gambling was tolerated until it upset the social order. Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina passed laws to prevent gambling from getting out of hand. By the end of the 19th century, gambling was highly disregarded.
The 20th Century to the Present
In the twentieth century, the only legal gambling options were horse races in Maryland and Kentucky. There were a few isolated card clubs but most of the American states had issued laws against gambling. It wasn’t until the 1930s that many states legalized betting on horse races and charitable gambling.
In 1931, Nevada took this a step further and legalized casino gambling. However, during the end of the Prohibition Era, the crime syndicates shifted their attention towards gambling. After that, gambling restrictions were slowly raised. Now, most states have legalized gambling in casinos. In recent years, attention has shifted to online casinos bringing together two significant industries–gambling and technology.