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Gambling’s Storied History in the U.S.

Gambling is perhaps as old as humankind, and it has a long and storied history in the U.S. Although legal gambling is becoming increasingly popular, it is not without controversies, including addiction and association with crime and other social problems.

As this infographic by Nowsourcing shows, more and more states have been legalizing some forms of gambling. Where I live, in Washington D.C., local officials and media are hotly debating a proposed plan for a new casino across the river in Maryland.

Whether to approve a new gambling center is a complicated question, that must weigh the costs of increased policing, more drunk driving, more traffic, job creation, addiction, and other issues. Historically, a lot of people have opposed gambling on moral grounds, although it’s clear the practice has been far from stamped out.

And what to do about online gaming?

We thought this infographic was worth a look. What do you think?

American Gambling History
© 2012 Casino.org


  1. Marilyn Lancelot
    August 3, 2012, 8:14 pm

    Sure, everyone loves to gamble . . . if they win. But, the person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, gambler, and have recovered from other addictive behaviors. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then on to the recovery road.

    I recently published a second book, Switching Addictions, describing additional issues that confront the recovering addict. If a person who has an addictive personality, doesn’t admit to at least two addictions, he’s not being honest. Until the underlying issues have been resolved, the person will continue to switch addictions. These are two books you might consider adding to your library. I also publish a free online newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been on-line for more than twelve years and is read by hundreds of women (and men) from around the world. (www.femalegamblers.info). I have been interviewed many times, and appeared on the 60 Minutes show in January 2011, which was moderated by Leslie Stahl.


    Marilyn Lancelot

  2. rick geiger
    United States
    July 31, 2012, 6:58 am

    This is very interesting, but the states where it is noted that online gambling is constitutionally prohibited is not correct.


    • Brian Clark Howard
      August 1, 2012, 1:03 pm

      I think they updated the graphic based on your feedback, so I posted a new version. Thanks

  3. Leland H. Baker
    United States
    July 30, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Copy mistakes: Under ‘1970’ it says, “the second state to legalized,” and under ‘Horse Racing’, you have Nevada blocked out instead of Utah.

    • Brian Clark Howard
      July 30, 2012, 11:30 pm

      The makers of the infographic (Nowsourcing) made an updated version to fix those issues, and I reposted. Thanks for the eagle eyes.

  4. Dianne Berlin
    July 30, 2012, 4:37 pm

    Legalizing something harmful never removes the harm. It just changes the legal consequences usually from those who provide or produce the activity or substance. For governments to del iberately & knowingly dump unnecessary & costly harm on its citizens is reprehensible. If elected officials looked as hard at the cost side of gambling as they fo at the “benefit only” figures, they would never promote gambling unless they were already corrupted.