gambling





Long before the United States ever existed, the British and Dutch had already brought gambling to North America, in the form of cards and dice. By the end of the 17th century, just about every country seat in colonial America had a lottery wheel. Cockfighting flourished thought the countries, especially in the South. Bear Baiting was also a popular sport, although it was banned by the Puritans. (Ortiz, Darwin. Gambling Scams. New York: Dodd, Mead + Company, 1984.) Nearly one hundred years later, the early church leaders struck down all forms of gambling which resulted in near death of gambling in the east. However the in the West, which was far from both government controls and the moral interference of reform groups in the East, gambling became so popular that Monte tables were often setup in the middle of the town. (Donovan, Hedley. The Gamblers. Alexandria: Time- Life Books, 1978.) During the Prohibition Era, illegal gambling was organized into an authoritarian regional and national system. Responsibility for the syndication of gambling is usually attributed to Arnold Rothstein, who invented the inner-city layoff. He is also known for master minding the "Black Sox" scandal in which the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in order to assure gambling profits. Since the 1970s, the United States has completely changed in its attitude toward gambling. Three hundred years ago, the "sport", mostly in the form of lottery, was seen as a perfectly acceptable way to raise money for public purposes. (Savage, Jeff. A Sure Thing?. Minnesota: Lerner Publications Company, 1997.) Over the past several years, slow economic growth, cuts in federal funding to states, and growing public needs have forced many desperate state and even local governments to seek additional sources of revenue. Most states have turned to lotteries, horse and dog racing, and, most recently, a growing number of states have resorted to casino gambling as a way to raise money and keep taxes low. (James, Rich. "All five casinos show January revenue drop." Bakersfield Californian 23 Feb. 1999: B5+) During the late 1980s, and early 1990s, several states have tried to introduce sports betting, either as part of lottery, as a sports pool, or as sports bookmaking. The leaders of the nation’s sports integrity, including the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB), was concerned that the states, in their desperation to raise money, might begin to tie in sports betting with the lottery. Then the three sports teamed up to try to put a stop to this. They reacted to this by putting strong pressure on state legislature not to induce sports betting. They also started lobbying Congress, and as a result, several bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress to limit the growth of sports wagering, either as part of the lottery or as sports bookmaking. (Savage, 18) However gambling, for the most part, is generally a well-regulated business. Virtually every state that permits casino gambling or pari-mutuel betting has a state racing or gambling commission to monitor gambling activities. And although today’s gambling industry is a big business run by huge corporations, virtually every state regulated commission feels it must show it is making sure that no underworld or syndicate figures play a role in its state gambling activities. (Ortiz, 50) The commissions also controlled other activities such as how late casinos may stay open and whether there will be limits on betting. Since these regulations are usually determined by state legislatures, it is only natural that gambling companies try to influence their decisions through lobbyists and political donations. (Siebel, Mark A, Nancy Jaids, and Alison Lanes. Gambling Crime or Recreation. Texas: Information Plus, 1996.) Currently, some form of gambling is legal in all states except Hawaii and Utah. While success is never assured, revenue-hungry state governments are virtually always willing to give gambling interests a hearing. In April 1994, casino interest spent $4.2 million to convince Missouri voters they should permit slot machines in their state. The vote failed by 1/10 of 1%, but after the gambling interest spent another $11.5 million for a similar referendum in November, which passed. In Connecticut, gambling corporations spent $4.9 billion in a four-year-long failed effort to get