Legalized Gambling



Through the years, gambling has become America's



pastime. Over 60 million Americans make some sort of



wager every day.1 When compared to other recreations(in



billions of dollars) in 1990, gambling institutions made



2.2 more than magazine sales, 8.3 more than book sales,



20.9 more than theaters, and a whopping 21.8 more than



movies.2 This number has increased to this high level



because of the growth in the amount of legalized gambling



establishments and the accessibility to these



establishments, both of which increases the number of



gamblers. The compulsive or pathological gambler affects



society most. According to Stuart Winston,



The compulsive gambler is the backbone of gambling.

Without the compulsive gambler, there would be no Las

Vegas, no Off Track Wagering. Two thirds of the race

tracks in America would close. The attendance of sporting

events would drop 50%, and T.V. wouldn't bother with

sports beyond championship events.....The compulsive

gambler bets a piece of his life everyday, and a piece of

his family's. The other 45 million people who gamble are

having fun.(Out of the 60 million who gamble every day)3



These gamblers often resort to crime to pay off their



debts and anger. Even though legalized gambling has



changed through time, and has been "accepted" in America



today, it remains detrimental to society, and should not



be legal anywhere.



American gambling can be traced back to the early



years of the nation. Different forms of gambling, such as



lotteries, remained popular until 1890, when U.S.



jurisdiction made lotteries and all other forms of



gambling illegal by direct prohibition.4 Gambling had



























become more and more a "low life" thing to do. These low



lifes, called "rowdies", would bet or take a bet on



anything. Most tried to look different from everyone else



by wearing thick imitation gold chains, a dyed black



mustache, a velvet coat, and long hair.



New York City alone had about 30,00 people earning a



living from gambling in the 1890's. The casino's were



plush and usually had a buffet with alcohol. The



operation made a lot of money, most from cheating. Each



casino would hire "agents" to come in and claim winning



keno numbers, afterwards giving most of it back to the



casino. Counterfeit money was also handed out to the few



people who happened to win. Any protest from a loser and



he would end up with a black eye. Oscar Handlin said, "An



individual may sometimes take away substantial sums of



money, but in the long run the banker must win."5



Essentially, gambling hurt society in the early years of



America. For the next 25 years, gambling became unpopular



again because of reports of cheating and changing American



values. Anything thought of to be harmful to society



became illegal. For example, alcohol became illegal by



Prohibition.



The reintroduction of gambling resulted in the return



of corruption and fraud. By the mid 1920's, state after



state abolished its anti-gambling laws. Gambling had



become more and more accepted because of churches holding



bingo sessions and legitimate racetracks being built. In



























1931, gambling became totally legalized in Nevada to



replace the money the state was getting from depleted ore



rich mountains.6



Organized crime started to turn toward gambling as



their main source of income after Prohibition ended in



1933. These criminals made most of their money



bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition, so once alcohol



prices went down, they needed another way to make a lot of



money fast: gambling.7



Organized crime started getting more involved with



gambling once Las Vegas started to boom. Bugsy Siegal, a



half insane murderer who was sent to Nevada to enforce mob



control of the race wire services, opened up the first



hotel/casino in Las Vegas. His hotel, the Flamingo began



a long period of gang involvement in Las Vegas. In 1947,



the Desert Inn opened, run by a gang from Cleveland. A



savage group of people, including the infamous Meyer



Lansky and Lucky Luciano, established the Desert Inn in



1947. Lansky, the brains of this group, was a genius with



numbers, while Luciano, the brute of the group, was a



genius for finding Lansky. 1952 brought the opening of



the Sahara by some run-out's from Oregon. The Sands, with



Frank Sinatra as a headliner, opened in 1953, funded with



Chicago mob money. This was the first attempt at bringing



big time entertainment out to Las Vegas to draw people to



casinos. Tony Stralla, a