To learn what started betting on sports one has to first examine the history of sports gambling in America. The US had a long history of permitting some kinds of legal gambling and even illegal betting to a certain degree. Political control and scandals concerning gaming interests have ended in selected backlashes which have lead to prohibition or regulation of sports gambling. Standards and laws pertaining to sports gambling have kept altering.

Nelson Rose explains these adjustments in law as 3 waves. The 1st wave was in the colonial era that lasted up until the mid 1800s, the 2nd wave started at the end of the Civil War and lasted till the early Twentieth century and the 3rd wave commenced during the Great Depression and is still continuing.

During the Colonial Era, diverse attitudes were enforced towards betting. Puritan attitudes were adopted towards gambling and possession of dice, cards, gaming tables etc were outlawed. Later on it was allowed so long as it wasn’t a calling or trade but for moderate and innocent recreation. Settlers brought along with them views that said gambling was merely a harmless past time. The frontier spirit encouraged the appeal of gambling as it involved high risk, high expectations and opportunism. arbitrage betting in soccer

Eventually all colonies used lotteries as a solution from economic problems and to benefit the colonies. It was a civic responsibility and profits were used to establish a number of the first prestigious universities, build churches and even libraries. Lotteries continued to be popular right to the initial 19th Century. Horse racing had also been preferred and the Long Island built the 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 were held responsible for committing crimes, debasing morals of society and endangering streets. During 1800s there seemed to be increasing attack of gambling especially lotteries and whenever operators absconded with the proceeds lottery scandals eventually led to prohibition of gambling.

The Gold Rush in California set off a huge surge in the kinds of gambling and San Francisco became the new gambling capital in the US. During 1849 and 1855 gambling spread widely and also by 1850 California and lots of cities had licensed gambling centers. But soon the Legislature made most forms of gambling illegal and certain professional gamblers were lynched. This prohibition drove wagering activities underground and did not eliminate it. Gambling was legal during 1869-1910 in Nevada.

It is possible to now understand what started gambling on sports in the US. With all the many scandals in the lottery gambling segments, 35 states in the US 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 popular tourist destination. Regardless of its illegality sports gambling became very popular and today is a high dollar industry.