To learn what started gambling on sports one has to first examine the history of sports gambling in America. The USA has a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and even illegal betting to some extent. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes which have resulted in prohibition or regulating sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept altering.
Nelson Rose explains these adjustments in law as 3 waves. The first wave was during the colonial era that lasted till the mid 1800s, the second wave started following the Civil War and lasted up until the early 20th Century and also the third wave commenced while in the Great Depression and it’s still continuing.
Throughout the Colonial Era, different attitudes were enforced towards gambling. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possessing dice, cards, gaming tables etc were outlawed. Afterwards it had been allowed so long as it wasn’t a calling or trade but for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought along with them views that said gambling was nothing but a harmless past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling since it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism. is arbitrage betting risk free
Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as a solution out of financial problems as well as help the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and profits were used to establish a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries remained popular right to the initial Nineteenth century. Horse racing had also been popular and the Long Island built the first race track in 1665. Casino gaming began to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns started to permit card games and dice.
The Lower Mississippi Valley became a structured and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river featuring its riverboats was a major trade avenue for both wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans quickly gained recognition as being 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 whenever operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals finally concluded in prohibition of gambling.
The Gold Rush in California set off a huge increase in the types of gambling and San Francisco became the new gambling capital in the US. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and by 1850 California and lots of cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most forms of gambling illegal and a number of 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 USA. With 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 was a preferred tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became quite popular and already is a billion dollar industry.