What started betting on sports

To learn what started betting on sports one has to first examine the historical past of sports gambling in the US. The US has a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and even illegal gambling to a certain degree. Political control and scandals concerning gaming interests have led to selected backlashes that have resulted in prohibition or regulation of sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept altering.

Nelson Rose explains these adjustments in law as three waves. The 1st wave was in the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the second wave started following the Civil War and lasted up until the early Twentieth century and 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 outlawed. Afterwards it was allowed as long as it was not a calling or trade but for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless activity. 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 out of financial problems and to help the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and proceeds were used to create some of the first prestigious universities, build churches and also libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the early 19th Century. Horse racing had also been popular and the Long Island built the first race track in 1665. Casino gaming began to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns began to permit card games and dice.

The Lower Mississippi Valley became an organized and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The grand river with its riverboats was a major trade avenue for both wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans quickly gained recognition as the gambling capital. During the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who had been blamed for committing crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there was increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and whenever operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals finally led to prohibition of gambling.

The Gold Rush in California triggered a tremendous surge in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco became the new gambling capital in the USA. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and also by 1850 California and many 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 easy to now understand what started gambling on sports in the USA. With the numerous scandals within 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 was a preferred tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became very popular and already is a billion dollar industry.