To learn what started gambling on sports one has to first examine the history of sports gambling in America. The US had a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and also illegal gambling to a certain degree. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have led to certain backlashes that have lead to prohibition or regulation of sports gambling. Standards and laws pertaining to sports gambling have kept changing.
Nelson Rose explains these adjustments in law as 3 waves. The 1st wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the 2nd wave started following the Civil War and lasted till the early Twentieth century and also the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and it’s still continuing.
Throughout the Colonial Era, different attitudes were enforced towards gambling. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possession of dice, cards, gaming tables etc were banned. Later on it had been allowed as long as it was not a calling or trade except for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought with them views that said gambling was nothing but a harmless past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling as it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism.
Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as being a solution out of economic problems as well as benefit the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and proceeds were utilized to create some of the first prestigious universities, build churches and also libraries. Lotteries remained popular right to the initial Nineteenth century. Horse racing was also preferred and the Long Island built the first race track in 1665. Casino gaming started to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns began 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 the gambling capital. During the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who had been held responsible for carrying out crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there seemed to be increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and whenever operators absconded with all the proceeds lottery scandals finally concluded in prohibition of gambling.
The Gold Rush in California set off a tremendous surge in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco was crowned the new gambling capital in the US. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and by 1850 California and lots of cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most types of gambling illegal and certain professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove gambling activities underground and could not eliminate it. Gambling was legal during 1869-1910 in Nevada.
It is possible to now understand what started gambling on sports in the US. With the many scandals in the lottery gambling segments, 35 states in America 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 popular tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became quite popular and today is a high dollar industry.