Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The act or practice of gambling; an agreement between two or more individuals to play collectively at a game of chance for a stake or wager, which will become the property of the winner and to which all involved make a contribution.

Since the early 1990s, gaming laws have been in a constant state of flux. Regulation of gaming is generally reserved to the states, but the U.S. Congress became involved in it in 1988 with the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (Gaming Act) (Pub. Law. No. 100-497, 102 Stat. 2467 [25 U.S.C.A. § 2701 et seq.] [Oct. 17, 1988]), which brought tribal gaming under the regulation of state and federal governments.

Before the 1990s, most gaming was illegal in a majority of states. Since the passage of the Gaming Act, many state legislatures have approved gaming in a variety of forms. Some states still outlaw all but charitable gambling, but most have expanded their definition of legal gaming operations to promote economic development.

The LEGAL HISTORY of gambling in the United States is marked by dramatic swings between prohibition and popularity. In colonial times, games of chance were generally illegal except for state and private lotteries. Other gaming was considered a sin and not fit for discussion in polite society. In the early nineteenth century, the popular belief changed from seeing gaming as a sin to seeing it as a vice. Gamblers were no longer considered fallen in the eyes of God but were now seen as simply victims of their own weaknesses.

Gaming came under renewed attack during the presidency of ANDREW JACKSON (1829? 37). Part of the "Jacksonian morality" of the period revived the view of gambling as sinful. By 1862, gaming was illegal in all states except Missouri and Kentucky, both of which retained state lotteries.

After the Civil War, legal gaming experienced a brief renaissance, only to fall out of favor again in the 1890s. At this point, it was outlawed even in the western territories, where card games such as poker and blackjack had become a regular diversion in frontier life. By 1910, the United States was again virtually free of legalized gaming. Only Maryland and Kentucky allowed gambling, in the sole form of horse race betting.

In 1931, Nevada re-legalized casino gaming. Many states followed this lead in the 1930s by legalizing pari-mutuel betting, wherein all bets are pooled and then paid, less a management fee, to the holders of...

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