Exactly what started betting on sports activities

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 some extent. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes which have lead to prohibition or regulating sports gambling. Standards and laws pertaining to sports gambling have kept changing.

Nelson Rose describes these changes in law as 3 waves. The first wave was during the colonial era that lasted till 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 is 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. Later on it had been allowed so 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 high risk, high expectations and opportunism.

Eventually all colonies used lotteries as a solution out of economic problems and to help the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and profits were used to create a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the initial 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 started to permit card games and dice.

The Lower Mississippi Valley became an organized and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river with its riverboats was a major trade avenue for wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans soon gained recognition as 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 when operators absconded with all the proceeds lottery scandals eventually led to prohibition of gambling.

The Gold Rush in California triggered a huge surge in the types of gambling and San Francisco was crowned the new gambling capital in the US. 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 possible to now understand what started gambling on sports in the US. With all 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 honest. In 1978 casino gambling was legalized by New Jersey and Atlantic City became a popular tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became very popular and already is a high dollar industry.