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The History of Casino Gaming in the USA
From Timothy Upton
August 2018

Many parts of the USA are famous for casino gaming, with Las Vegas and Atlantic City being some of the biggest gambling destinations in the world. However, online casino gambling is legally restricted in the US, but its availability and participation is increasing. Historical slot games and table games have survived the test of time, with Las Vegas now being one of the most popular casino gaming destinations in the world.

Nowadays other innovative forms of gambling like Fantasy Football are also becoming popular, with sites like attracting large followings.

Games of chance and original forms of gambling first came to America with the first settlers bringing in gambling, with lotteries being used to finance their settlement. Some English colonies that settled in the US were lenient towards gambling, regularly partaking in gambling at home as an innocent form of recreation. However, the Puritan settlers came to America with the belief of discarding the values of England and establish a new world on Puritan values and beliefs, away from gambling.

Gambling businesses began to develop and New Orleans became the nation's leading gambling hive, but gambling was quickly pushed out of the town and onto the boats on the Mississippi River. Gambling quickly became frowned upon in New Orleans, and there were increasing legal pressures that pushed these gambling organisations underground. During the California Gold Rush, San Francisco overtook New Orleans as the gambling capital of the USA, but laws quickly changed as they did in New Orleans, further pushing gambling underground.

Following the Civil War some lotteries were revived in the South and gambling became extremely popular, with towns like Deadwood, Denver and Kansas City having many gambling houses. However gambling was almost uniformly outlawed throughout the US and became a largely illegal activity involving the mafia and illegal gambling rings by the early 20th century.

During the early 1900s, several forms of gambling were legalised, such as horse racing and charity bingo and in 1963, New Hampshire legalised a state lottery. After the stock market crash of 1929, gambling became legalised in Nevada and the first casinos opened. In 1931 Nevada legalised most forms of gambling when the Assembly Bill 98 was signed into law as a way to source revenue for the state. The bill legalised games such as roulette, blackjack, craps and slots. Originally, many casinos were financed by mobsters, such as Flamingo which was opened in 1947 by the infamous Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, and it was this casino that further established Las Vegas due to its success.

Very quickly, during the 1950s Las Vegas became the centre of US gambling, particularly after a crack-down on mobster-led casinos by officials, and to this day is one of the leading casino destinations in the world with its 2009 annual revenue reaching $5.550 billion. In 1978, New Jersey legalised gambling in Atlantic City as a way to draw tourists back to the city after a decline in tourism after air travel became widely accessible, and Atlantic City is now America's second largest gambling city. The first Indian Casino was built by the Seminole tribe in 1979, in Florida, and in 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by the federal government which led to many new casino openings in the mid-1990's offering slot machines and table games.

During 21st century, gambling has become one of America's fastest growing industries and legalised gambling now generates around $100 billion per year and there are now 20 states in the US that allow commercial casinos in some form. With casinos and gambling popularity growing worldwide, the US are certain to continue their track record of providing some of the most exciting casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.


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