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United States Gambling

USA Betting

By Reno Rollins

USA Gambling - Betting in the United StatesGambling in the United States of America is a major industry, generating more than 80 billion dollars per year. Over one-million jobs have been created, and money in excess of $5.2 billion has went towards state and local tax revenue.

A Brief History of USA Gambling

In the early history of the United States, various colonies held to very different beliefs when it came to gambling. In Pennsylvania and New England, for example, Puritan ideals towards gambling were adopted. In some cases, this made it illegal for a person to own cards, dice or even gaming tables. This was eventually softened to allow gaming for recreation, although professional gambling was still restricted.

Other colonies adopted a more British attitude towards gambling, and it was viewed as nothing more than a harmless way to pass the time. In these colonies, gambling was allowed for games which were considered proper diversions for gentlemen.

19th Century American Gaming

By the mid to late 1800s, public opinion had turned against gambling. In the state of California, laws were passed to ban both gamblers and gambling.

After the Civil War, the southern states began to use the lottery to help with the rebuilding process. These lotteries, however, were often plagued by scandals and corruption. This led to an increase in state and federal legislation against lotteries. By 1878, Louisiana was the last state to have a lottery, and it was abolished in 1895.

U.S. Gambling in the 20th and 21st Centuries

In 1931, the state of Nevada legalized most forms of gambling in order to capitalize on the tourism expected from the completion of the Hoover Dam. However, the states gambling industry wouldnt really take off until after the post-World War II boom.

There was no legal lottery in operation in the United States from 1894 until 1964. New Hampshire finally voted to have a state lottery, and New York followed in 1967. The first successful modern lottery was launched by New Jersey in 1971.

In 1978, New Jersey became the second state to legalize casino gambling. They did so in an effort to revitalize the resort area known as Atlantic City. The plan was a success, and many other states would follow suit in the decades to come.

Gambling continues to be a polarizing issue in the United States. Supporters point to increased revenue on the state and local level, additional jobs and recreational benefits. Opponents cite higher crime rates, gambling addiction and moral concerns.

Types of Gambling Allowed

Below are the types of gaming allowed in the United States. In several cases, I have provided the gross revenue generated for 2005.

  • Card Rooms ($1.12 billion)
  • Commercial Casinos - These are defined as any casino not run by an Indian tribe. Over 450 commercial casinos can be found in 16 states, as well as the U.S. province of Puerto Rico. ($31.85 billion)
  • Charitable Games - This type of gambling is for nonprofit organizations such as churches. It includes everything from raffles to bingo (the most popular charitable game). In California, bingo is the only charitable game which is legal. ($2.33 billion)
  • Indian Casinos - Any casino owned by an Indian tribe. Forty percent of the U.S. tribes are involved with casinos. The most notable example is the Foxwoods Casino located in Connecticut. With over 340,000 square feet of gambling space, it is the largest casino in the world.

Tribal Gaming

Tribal games are divided into three categories: Class I (traditional Indian gaming for minimal prizes), Class II (bingo-style games and non-banked card games) and Class III (includes traditional casino games and slot machines). ($22.62 billion)

  • Legal Bookmaking - In the United States, sports gambling in only legal in Nevada casinos. ($130.5 million)
  • Lotteries - All but 8 states allow a lottery (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming). Some lotteries also offer scratch card and pull-tab games. ($22.89 billion)
  • Pari-Mutuel Betting - This includes horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai. ($3.68 billion)
  • Racino - A combination race track and casino. Often, this is limited to just slot machines, but table games can be found with increasing frequency.

Gambling By State

The following is a state-by-state breakdown of what games can be found throughout America. Please note that bingo can be found almost everywhere in some form, but I have tried to list those states which specifically feature bingo halls.

  • Alabama - Casinos and dog track racing
  • Alaska - Bingo and pull tabs
  • Arizona - Casinos, dog track and horse track
  • Arkansas - Dog and horse track
  • California- Casinos, cruise ship gambling, horse track
  • Colorado - Casinos, horse and dog track
  • Connecticut - Casinos and dog racing
  • Delaware - Horse track racino
  • Florida - Casinos, casino cruises, dog track and dog track racino, horse track, horse track racino and Jai-Alai
  • Georgia - Casino cruise
  • Idaho - Casinos and horse racing
  • Illinois - Casinos and horse racing
  • Indiana - Casinos and horse racing
  • Iowa - Casinos, horse track racino and dog track racino
  • Kansas - Casinos, dog and horse track
  • Kentucky - Horse track
  • Louisiana - Casinos and horse track racino
  • Maine - Casinos and horse racing
  • Maryland - Horse racing
  • Massachusetts - Casinos, dog and horse track
  • Michigan - Casinos and horse track
  • Minnesota - Casinos and horse racing
  • Mississippi - Casinos gambling
  • Missouri - Casinos gambling
  • Montana - Casinos and horse racing
  • Nebraska - Casinos and horse racing
  • Nevada - Casinos, horse racing and legal sports betting
  • New Hampshire - Horse racing, dog track racino and horse track racino
  • New Jersey - Casinos and horse racing
  • New Mexico - Casino and horse racing
  • New York - Casinos, cruise ship gambling, horse tracks and horse track racinos
  • North Carolina - Casinos and bingo
  • North Dakota - Casinos and horse racing
  • Ohio - Horse racing
  • Oklahoma - Casinos, bingo, horse racing and horse track racino
  • Oregon - Casinos and horse racing
  • Pennsylvania - Casino, horse track and horse track racino
  • Rhode Island - Casino and dog track
  • South Carolina - Cruise ship gambling
  • South Dakota - Casinos, bingo and horse racing
  • Texas - Bingo, cruise ship gambling, dog and horse racing
  • Virginia - Horse track racino
  • Washington - Casinos, bingo, cruise ship gambling and horse racing
  • West Virginia - Dog and horse track racino
  • Wisconsin - Bingo, casinos and dog racing
  • Wyoming - Casinos and horse racing

Legal Issues

Some states require casinos to be located on a body of water. In many cases, this has resulted in riverboat casinos built on stilts or surrounded by a moat. After Hurricane Katrina (in which many of these facilities were completely destroyed), a number of states now allow their casinos to be build on land, although they must still be within a certain distance of a navigable waterway.

The online gambling industry in the United States suffered a major setback in 2006 with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This title (which was tacked on to the SAFE Port Act) prohibits the transfer of funds from a financial institution to an Internet gambling site. In the wake of this legislation, many top online casinos will no longer accept U.S. customers.

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