The history of sports gambling in the US dates back to the times when the founders took risks. Back then gamblers bet on cockfights, makeshift horse races and bare fist fights. Colonists and Pioneers that landed in the US from Europe and England in particular had betting in their veins as their ancestors gambled for generations. Therefore “sports betting” was a natural part and parcel of the early American culture.
Today it is obvious that sports betting activities are the rage all over the world. With the ease of online sports betting, it has made the sport all the more convenient and cheaper. Though in the past the sports betting segment was small, today it has permeated almost every facet of society.
Horse racing was popular in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and was enjoyed mostly by the upper class. But horse tracks began to appear after the Civil War and soon gamblers from all sectors of society flocked to these racing establishments. Bookies had a hold over the gambling population and they were setting odds on horses that increased the betting handle. Bookies would lower the odds on other horses to increase their attractiveness when there was a lot of money on a particular horse. By 1920s horse racing had reached a peak with more than 300 racetracks all over the US.
Professional baseball gained popularity in the late 1800s and “pool cards” came into use. The “Black Sox Scanal” which was “fixed” rocked the US and the public received a negative view of sports bettors. Though gambling was illegal most people considered sports gambling to be a harmless victimless crime. College football and basketball also gained popularity with bettors as baseball and boxing. Pool cards were as popular as ever even though the odds of these cards were in the bookie’s favor.
In most US cities, sports gambling activities were becoming a part of life and most youngsters were being exposed to the sports betting industry at a very early age. Some professionals have said, “Sports gambling was getting more popular than hot dogs!” Soon Leo Hirschfield started Athletic Publications that became the sports betting world standard for almost three decades.
Established in 1930 this company set lines in sports events and distributed them to bookmakers in the nation via the telegraph or telephone He also published sports information that helped bookies produce better lines and gamblers make better decisions. The publication that was most popular was The Green Sheet. He was legitimate even though his customers were illegal bookies.
Sports’ gambling was finally legalized in Nevada in the year 1931 and the state’s financial situation which was in dire straits at that time, changed drastically. Legalized boxing and sports gambling activities made it a hot spot for tourists and this changed its economic condition for the better.
A resolution was passed in 1951 by the Congress that imposed a 10% tax on every sports bet. New regulations allowed the bookies to come out of the dark and work openly. Turf clubs were the first legal sports books in Nevada and they were sometimes called “sawdust” rooms. In 1980s Roxborough became a major part of sports gambling and ushered in the technology that revolutionized sports gambling.