Las Vegas Gambling Essay

1820 words - 8 pages

Las Vegas Gambling Paper – Rough Draft
Andreas Sheikh
History 310
Ms. Ainsworth
“Las Vegas looks the way you'd imagine heaven must look at night” states New York Times best selling novelist, Chuck Palahniuk. (1) He has a point. Las Vegas is, in a way, an American Mecca -- a national tourist hotspot filled with resorts, gambling, shopping, dining, drinking, sporting, nightlife and most other things entertainment. Las Vegas is the fastest growing city and fastest growing job market in the United States. (source?) The city, a sort of massive adult carnival, is made up of elements largely alien to its native desert setting. For one, Vegas welcomes almost 40 million visitors per year, a number ...view middle of the document...

(2) When these miners came, they brought with them “games of chance” such as black jack, roulette and poker. These games spread quickly, “gambling became the popular pastime for ‘forty-niners’ mining in the Sierra Nevada goldfields.” (3) Miners would wager gold, supplies and alcohol in gambling houses run by each camp of prospectors. Despite gambling’s popularity in these camps of settlers, territory legislature banned gambling of all forms, and threatened strict punishment if caught. Nonetheless, the games continued in secret and when Nevada became a state in 1864, the ban on gambling was lessened and eventually removed for most forms of games in 1869. (3) In May of 1905, Las Vegas was officially founded in Southern Nevada, where gaming activity was already pervasive. There was little government regulation on gambling in the period between 1869-1900, until the progressive movement began to look upon gambling as immoral. States began to pass strict laws banning all forms of gambling. Nevada was the last holdout, permitting gambling until 1909 before the same bans were enacted. (4) The Nevada State Journal wrote, “ Stilled eternally is the click of the wheel, rattle of the dice and swish of cards.” (5) “Eternity” lasted less than a week, as citizens of Las Vegas quickly started lucrative underground gambling operations. “ Games of chance were integral to southern Nevada in the 40 years preceding the ban…. a nation wide prohibition on gambling was not enough to eradicate gaming.” (6) Because Nevada was the last state to ban gaming, a large gambling population from other states settled in Las Vegas before the ban was enacted in Nevada. As a result, Vegas was filled with passionate gamblers from other states, on top of a large number of native Southern Nevada inhabitants who had gambling as a part of their culture. (7) Thus, Vegas’ underground gambling grew at record pace and roared on into the 1920’s and up to Black Tuesday, the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
In the midst of The Great Depression, the Nevada State Government turned to the gaming industry in Las Vegas to save the state economy, which was a great success. The first years of The Great Depression were tough on Nevada. Their state budget was thinning, mining efforts were in a decline, and a railroad business that prospered during World War I was dwindling – the economy was in shambles. (8)Vegas was in such bad shape during the depression, that “there did not seem to be a possibility for growth… this was the least likely city to succeed in the United States.” (9) The state was aware that gambling occurred underground, and they needed the gambling taxes they were missing out on due to illegal gambling. In March of 1931, the economic situation had become so dire that Nevada State legislature decided to legalize gambling, on the premise that the taxes from gaming go towards funding education. Shortly after, Las Vegas issued gaming licenses to different parties. (3) These licenses were used to...

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