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The United States, Birthplace of the Modern Casino

The modern mega-casino resort complex that we have come to associate with Macao, Las Vegas, Foxwoods, and the Caribbean would not exist if not for the legalization of casinos in Nevada, and the rise of the United States casino culture.

While gambling was legal or illegal in some jurisdictions of the United States throughout its history, the state of Nevada set itself apart in the 1930s by legalizing all forms of gambling across the entire state. It took two more decades for it to catch on, but eventually Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe began to find themselves as a home for casinos. For the next 25 years, Nevada experienced an explosion of casinos in these three cities, as full-service casinos with blackjack, roulette, craps, poker, and slot machines all under one roof were legal literally nowhere else in the country.

That changed in 1977, when Atlantic City, New Jersey was looking for a new source of income, and hoping to turn itself into the Las Vegas of the East, legalized casinos within the city limits. For a time Atlantic City become the East Coast gambling Mecca, but other places started to catch on and want a piece of the action, and the taxes and tourism that come along with it.

The next three decades saw huge multi-purpose casino resorts pop up around the country. Gambling was legalized on riverboats in Missouri and Illinois, New Orleans granted a casino license, and most importantly, Native Americans began to open casinos on reservation land. The Indian casino boom has now brought casinos to a dozen more states such as California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, home of Foxwoods, the largest casino in the United States.

While there are some smaller casinos found in Nevada, the American casino is a huge enterprise, dozens of tables, hundreds of slot machines, sports books, hotels, restaurants, golf courses and more can be found at nearly every US casino, and there is no sign that we won’t see more in the future.


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