Gambling: One of America’s Favorite Traditions


When you think of American traditions, many different thoughts may come to mind, usually sports such as baseball or basketball or even holidays like the fourth of July. However, one tradition that many people tend to forget about is gambling. Since it is illegal in some states, people may not consider it to be as much of a pastime as a good ole’ American baseball game. However, it has been around for quite a long time and will continue to be a part of our culture for many years to come.

Gambling is one of America’s favorite traditions and has been a part of American history since the 1600s beginning with the pre-Colonial Native American Indians. Believe it or not, Native American Indians were actually avid gamblers. One of their popular gambling games was called “hubbub”, a game similar to craps.

The first wave of American Gambling that we encountered was in the 1600s when the colonists sailed from England to the “New World”, and then was made illegal in the New England Colonies. Later in the 1700s gambling had become a civic responsibility with all 13 colonies establishing lotteries to raise revenue.

The second wave of American Gambling occurred in the Wild West in the mid-1800s. The wave of gambling included the California gold rush, which set off a gambling spree in the west. While this wave of gambling was in effect, lynchings of professional gamblers began occurring in a fight to gain respect and to decrease their lawlessness.

Then, prohibition hit. The third wave of American Gambling beginning in the 1900s with the rise of the Casinos. The Prohibition on alcohol and gambling created incentive for organized crime and illegal “speakeasies”. During the Great depression, beginning in 1929, states began to re-legalize gambling to stimulate the economy. Then, in the 1930s the government started cracking down on illegal gambling operations to reclaim taxes.

In 1995, the first online casino began operations. However, today the government is cracking down on online casinos. In fact on April 15, 2011 the FBI shut down the top four poker websites in the United States.

American Gambling History
© 2012

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