To learn what started gambling on sports one has to first examine the historical past of sports gambling in the US. The US had a long history of permitting certain types of legal gambling and even illegal betting to a certain degree. Political control and scandals regarding gaming interests have ended in certain backlashes which have resulted in prohibition or regulating sports gambling. Standards and laws relating to sports gambling have kept altering.
Nelson Rose describes these changes in law as three waves. The first wave was during the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the 2nd wave started following the Civil War and lasted up until the early Twentieth century and also the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and is still continuing.
Throughout the Colonial Era, diverse attitudes were enforced towards gambling. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possession of dice, cards, gaming tables etc were outlawed. Afterwards it was allowed as long as it was not a calling or trade except for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless activity. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling since it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism. sport betting spread example
Ultimately all colonies used lotteries as a solution from economic problems as well as help the colonies. It became a civic responsibility and proceeds were used to establish a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the early 19th Century. Horse racing had also been popular and the Long Island built the very first race track in 1665. Casino gaming began to emerge slowly as roadhouses and taverns began to permit card games and dice.
The Lower Mississippi Valley became an organized and legitimate gambling area in 1800s. The mighty river featuring its riverboats was a major trade avenue for both wealthy merchants and farmers. New Orleans soon gained recognition as the gambling capital. Through the 1830s southern settlers turned against professional gamblers who had been held responsible for committing crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there was increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and whenever operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals eventually concluded in prohibition of gambling.
The Gold Rush in California triggered a tremendous increase in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco became the new gambling capital in the USA. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and also by 1850 California and many cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most forms of gambling illegal and a number of professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove wagering activities underground and could not eliminate it. Gambling was legal during 1869-1910 in Nevada.
It is easy to now understand what started gambling on sports in the US. With the numerous scandals within the lottery gambling segments, 35 states in America including California prohibited lotteries. In 1933 pari-mutuel betting was legalized and new automated systems and laws made horse racing betting more honest. In 1978 casino gambling was legalized by New Jersey and Atlantic City was a preferred tourist destination. Despite its illegality sports gambling became very popular and today is a high dollar industry.