Sports Betting in the US Through Years

Before taking a closer look at the history of sports betting in the USA, it is essential to examine how the government has approached the legalization of gambling. Gambling and sports betting have a long and complicated history in the nation and have frequently occurred despite anti-gambling laws. Scandals were the most often seen around: 

  • Baseball 
  • Boxing 
  • Horse racing 

Sports betting timeline throughout US history 

Let’s look at some of the turning points in history to understand better how gambling has developed in the United States of America and how businesses like managed to become a legitimate part of the economy. 

Mayflower Arrives 

Gambling establishments came to America with the early inhabitants. There were no significant limitations on any kind of gambling during this period. In actuality, many neighborhood initiatives received funding from lottery-style gaming. 

Banning Lottery  

Funnily enough, you probably wouldn’t associate gambling and education, but lotteries were used to create and upgrade colleges and secondary schools. Lottery proceeds were used to launch a number of the most renowned institutions, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Dartmouth. The British Crown, which at the time controlled the nation, banned all of these lotteries in 1769. 

The Dawn of Independence 

It might be a surprise, but the lottery partly financed the American Revolution. The American revolutionaries used inventive means of raising money to aid in the funding of an army in order to win independence from England. Following the winning of American colonies’ independence from England in 1783, all governmental bans on gambling and the lottery were lifted. 

New Major Ban of 1860 

The American economy suffered as a result of the Revolutionary War. Gambling was no longer seen as favorable since it was now connected to federal, state, and local corruption. The Federal Government outlawed several lawful gambling activities, including sports betting, in 1860. However, the restriction did not apply to horse racing

The Sport of the Elites 

Thoroughbred horses first competed in the now-famous Belmont Stakes in 1867, then in the Preakness Stakes in 1873. Finally, Churchill Downs in south Louisville, Kentucky, hosted the Kentucky Derby’s inaugural race in 1875, and this trio of yearly competitions came to be known as the Triple Crown. Horse racing betting and attendance were exclusive to the wealthy and not considered forms of traditional gambling. Nevertheless, over 300 horse racing courses have been constructed across the US in less than 23 years. This remarkable figure demonstrated Americans’ favorable perception of sports betting and gambling. 

Gambling Is Banned Yet Again 

Boxing was another popular sport for wagering. During the early 20th century, famed fighters like Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney rose to prominence. However, when news of lottery scams and gambling-related fraud spread, people’s perceptions of all types of gambling changed, and it was once more made illegal. 

1919 Baseball Outrage 

An incredibly significant chapter in the history of American sports betting is the Black Sox controversy. It took place in 1919 during the World Series. Eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of deliberately losing the series to the Cincinnati Reds. They were each given $10,000 in bribes from a renowned gambling organization led by Arnold Rothstein. It damaged the reputation of sports betting and made many think that placing bets on competitive sports would jeopardize the events’ integrity. 

Viva Las Vegas!

Nevada allowed sports betting in 1949 in an effort to boost its travel and tourist sector. By 1951, all sports wagers were subject to a 10% tax levied by the federal government. Casinos with sportsbooks, however, were suffering. After Congress reduced the levy to 2% in 1971, Las Vegas once again became a legitimate sports betting destination. However, outside of Nevada, organized crime continued to control the gaming and sports betting industries in the 1960s. Robert F. Kennedy, the US attorney general at the time, led Congress’ tenacious efforts to adopt legislation limiting illicit sports betting. But throughout the 1970s and 1980s, illicit bookmaking persisted and even increased despite the application of numerous laws. 

Turn of the Century 

Due to technological advances, online wagering became possible, and sure enough, by the start of the new millennium, online betting had a huge US market. Similar to previous instances, Congress attempted to ban internet sports betting in 2006 by focusing on the money flow. In addition, a new round of legal disputes resulted from several offshore sportsbooks being compelled to stop serving US-based clients and look for alternative payment processing methods. Finally, on June 11, 2018, the state’s lengthy and tenacious struggle was rewarded. Assembly Bill 4111 was signed by Governor Phil Murphy, giving way to 23 legitimate online sportsbook casinos that have been granted licenses by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement as of April 2021. State-by-state legalization procedures have been completed in several additional states around the nation since then.