What started gambling on sports activities

To learn what started betting on sports one has to first examine the history of sports gambling in America. The USA has a long history of allowing some kinds of legal gambling and also illegal gambling to a certain degree. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes which have resulted in prohibition or regulating sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept altering.

Nelson Rose explains these changes in law as three waves. The 1st wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the 2nd wave started at the end of the Civil War and lasted till the early Twentieth century and also the 3rd wave commenced while in the Great Depression and it’s still continuing.

During the Colonial Era, different attitudes were enforced towards betting. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possessing dice, cards, gaming tables etc were banned. Later on it was allowed so long as it wasn’t a calling or trade but for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought along with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling since it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism.

Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as a solution from economic problems and to help the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and proceeds were used to establish some of the first prestigious universities, build churches and also libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the early 19th Century. Horse racing was also popular and the Long Island built the first race track in 1665. Casino gaming began to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns started to allow card games and dice.

The Lower Mississippi Valley became a structured and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river featuring its riverboats became a major trade avenue for both wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans soon gained recognition as being the gambling capital. Through the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who were held responsible for committing crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there was increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and when operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals finally led to prohibition of gambling.

The Gold Rush in California triggered a huge surge in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco became the new gambling capital in the US. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and by 1850 California and many cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most types of gambling illegal and a number of professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove wagering activities underground and could not eliminate it. Gambling was legal during 1869-1910 in Nevada.

It is easy to now understand what started gambling on sports in the USA. With the many scandals in the lottery gambling segments, 35 states in the US including California prohibited lotteries. In 1933 pari-mutuel betting was legalized and new automated systems and laws made horse racing betting more straightforward. In 1978 casino gambling was legalized by New Jersey and Atlantic City became a preferred tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became quite popular and already is a billion dollar industry.