To learn what started gambling on sports one has to first examine the historical past of sports gambling in the US. The US has a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and even illegal betting to some extent. Political control and scandals concerning gaming interests have led to selected backlashes which have lead to prohibition or regulating sports gambling. Standards and laws pertaining to sports gambling have kept changing.
Nelson Rose explains these adjustments in law as 3 waves. The 1st wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the second wave started following the Civil War and lasted till the early 20th Century and also the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and it’s still continuing.
During the Colonial Era, diverse attitudes were enforced towards gambling. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possession of dice, cards, gaming tables etc were banned. Later on it was allowed so long as it was not a calling or trade but for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought along with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling since it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism.
Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as a solution out of financial problems as well as benefit the colonies. It was a civic responsibility and profits were used to establish some of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the initial Nineteenth century. Horse racing had also been preferred 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 grand river with its riverboats became 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 had been held responsible for committing crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there was increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and when operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals eventually led to prohibition of gambling.
The Gold Rush in California set off a tremendous surge in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco was crowned the new gambling capital in the USA. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and also by 1850 California and lots of cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most forms of gambling illegal and certain professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove wagering 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 the numerous scandals within 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 straightforward. In 1978 casino gambling was legalized by New Jersey and Atlantic City was a popular tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became quite popular and already is a high dollar industry.