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.