By 1931 Nevada was asking the very question it would ask millions of visitors in the future: What did you get to lose? The legislature has passed the laws that year legalization game and divorce making a relatively simple process. The story was striking news all over America. “Nevada is tired of the cacti, alkali losses, sparse population, difficult times and virtue,” reported the Montgomery (Alabama) announcer. “Acres of Hell One Hundred Thousand,” Spit the Dallas Morning News. The equanimity of the Hartford Times about Nevada: “Perhaps he is simply honest in the writing laws that are hypocritically evaded almost everywhere else. ”
The first casinoswere opened in Reno, and they were owned by Westerners like William Harrah and Raymond Smith, of Harold’s club. By 1945, with the relatively minor intervention of outside gambling interests, Nevada’s gambling handle was close to a billion dollars. The next ten years witnessed the development of Las Vegas, in the southern part of the state, as a gambling center; a large part of the capital for this development came from the eastern unions. A Los Angeles bandit named Bugsy Siegel was the visionary behind the Las Vegas personality, who became a symbol for the American game as recognizable and as “unspeakably showy” as a riverboat player’s vest.
In 1945 Siegel began building the Flamingo Hotel on the Los Angeles side of the city, the band. Like Wilbur Clark, who followed him with the Desert Inn, Siegel ran out of money halfway through the construction. The two men turned to the Cleveland union, one of the toughest and richest. Siegel was assassinated before his hotel was finished, but he had already pushed Nevada playing the past forward and distant days of hall doors and sawdust.
In the Las Vegas Strip the gambling unions had a utopia. Like William Penn creating the young arrival of Philadelphia or Brigham at Salt Lake, they had a place in America to do what they wanted. In it they recognize what they knew best by building a series of hotels in the middle of the 1940s nightclub: in names, themes, neon signs, muted lighting, entertainment, costume, and even in cocktail waitresses and wandering cigarette girls. The founding fathers of the band removed any logical sense of place.
They replaced banknotes with colored chips and suspended time, with round-the-clock play, an almost total absence of clocks, and bright lights on the band that give the night the busiest hours in the day. By careful design Las Vegas had nothing to do, but everything, do with the rest of America. After almost fifty years the Nevada experience was a sustained success, and she eventually took a competitor in the form of Atlantic City, where the game was legalized in 1978.
In 1964 New Hampshire led a lottery. The tickets cost $ 3, the top price was $ 100,000, and the state earned $ 2.5 million: a success. Tellingly, all but one of the eighteen winners was out of state. The lottery fever has since spread to the thirty-three states, and in most cases the states have permeated their lotteries with the benign purpose: education when it comes to New York and New Hampshire, the elderly in Pennsylvania.
In the 1980 state of New York paid to one of its most unpleasant elements the compliment of imitation, instituting a numbers game just like “politics.” From the runners a thousand numbers reacted by staging a protest in front of the governor’s office. They do not need to be concerned, though, because most accounts show that the state’s gambling, including the Au-Voie betting, has not cut into illegal deals. They have, however, helped bring the game as a way of life to a larger population than ever before.
About 20 years ago the Nevada set of examples combined with the popularity of state lotteries to obscure the long gambling history of posing problems. A new era has begun. In the old game was one of the vices, but in the nine it was reworked as “play,” a fun, and it does not pose problems but solves them.