What started betting on sports

To learn what started betting on sports one has to first examine the history of sports gambling in the US. The US has a long history of allowing some kinds of legal gambling and even illegal gambling to a certain degree. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes which have resulted in prohibition or regulation of sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept altering.

Nelson Rose describes these changes in law as 3 waves. The 1st wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the second wave started at the end of the Civil War and lasted till the early 20th Century and the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and is still continuing.

During the Colonial Era, different attitudes were enforced towards betting. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possession of dice, cards, gaming tables etc were outlawed. Later on it had been allowed as long as it was not a calling or trade except for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought along with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless activity. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling since it involved risk taking, high expectations and opportunism.

Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as being a solution from economic problems as well as help the colonies. It was a civic responsibility and proceeds were used to create a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and also libraries. Lotteries remained popular right to the early 19th Century. Horse racing had also been popular and the Long Island built the very first race track in 1665. Casino gaming started to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns began to permit card games and dice.

The Lower Mississippi Valley became a structured and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river with its riverboats became a major trade avenue for both wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans soon gained recognition as being the gambling capital. During the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who were blamed for committing 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 eventually led to prohibition of gambling.

The Gold Rush in California triggered a tremendous surge in the types of gambling and San Francisco was crowned the new gambling capital in the USA. 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 forms of gambling illegal and a number of professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove wagering activities underground and did 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 all the numerous scandals in 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 today is a billion dollar industry.