To learn what started betting on sports one has to first examine the historical past of sports gambling in America. The USA had a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and even illegal gambling to a certain degree. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes that have resulted in prohibition or regulation of sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept changing.
Nelson Rose explains these changes in law as three waves. The first wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the second wave started following the Civil War and lasted till the early Twentieth century and the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and it’s still continuing.
During the Colonial Era, diverse attitudes were enforced towards betting. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possessing dice, cards, gaming tables etc were banned. 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 past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling as it involved risk taking, high expectations and opportunism. sport betting 90
Eventually all colonies used lotteries as a solution from financial problems and to help the colonies. It was a civic responsibility and proceeds were used to create a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries remained popular right to the early Nineteenth century. Horse racing was also popular and the Long Island built the very first race track in 1665. Casino gaming started to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns started to allow card games and dice.
The Lower Mississippi Valley became an organized and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river featuring its riverboats became a major trade avenue for wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans soon gained recognition as being the gambling capital. Through the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who had been blamed for carrying out crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there seemed to be increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and when operators absconded with all the proceeds lottery scandals finally led to prohibition of gambling.
The Gold Rush in California set off a huge 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 a number of 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 all the numerous 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 honest. In 1978 casino gambling was legalized by New Jersey and Atlantic City became a preferred tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became very popular and already is a billion dollar industry.