History of Gaming Nevada
Evidence of Gaming Goes Back to 300 B.C. • American Indians (Washo) in southern Nevada gambled on: • Foot races and stick and rope games; • Stakes were baskets, eagle feathers, jewelry, buckskins, or as simple as a hit on the head or hand.
Before Statehood • Before creation of Nevada territory, residents adopted gambling as a way of life. • Mining towns sprang up as fast as news of the discovery. • In addition to supplies, mining towns provided entertainment in form of saloons, women, and gambling.
1861 Nevada Becomes Territory • First territorial governor, James Nye of new York, opposed gambling. • Appointed by Abraham Lincoln. • At Nye’s urging, first territorial legislature passed the first law prohibiting all forms of gambling.
First Anti-gambling Law Strong • Running gambling establishment was a felony and betting was a misdemeanor. • Bounty of $100 offered per conviction to encourage prosecuting attorneys to take action against gamblers. • As tough as appeared, largely ignored.
1864 Nevada Becomes a State • During 1st legislative session territorial prohibition re-enacted. • Penalty reduced from felony to misdemeanor. • First governor was Henry Blasdel.
1866 First Bill Drafted to Allow Gambling • Year after statehood, bill allowing all forms of gambling was drafted and passed by legislature the following year. • Governor Henry “chocolate and coffee” Blasdel vetoes legislation. Not enough votes to override.
1869 Vetoed Bill Re-introduced • Bill re-introduced, passed, and again vetoed by Blasdel. • Veto overridden. • Nevada has law legalizing gambling.
1869 Bill • Operators paid a fee for right to operate casino. • Not permitted in front rooms where it could be viewed by passers-by. • All signs and advertising was prohibited.
1869 Bill (Continued) • First operators required to be licensed. • Those under 17 could not gamble. • Typical casino: one faro game, one roulette, three-card monte layout, and a few poker tables.
In Late 1870’s Northern Nevada Was Population Center • Virginia city had population of 18,000: • 39 groceries • 15 butcher shops • 1 library • 1 theatre • Over 100 casinos
1877 Law to Protect Families • To protect families from excessive gambling. “Family man has no right to squander any portion of money necessary to maintain family.” • Allowed family members to notify saloon keepers that husbands (or fathers) were gambling excessively.
1877 Law to Protect Families (Continued) • Operators allowing those to gamble were charged with a misdemeanor. • Act also limited gambling to second stories of buildings.
1902 William Clark • U.S. Senator from Montana, William Clark, owns san Pedro, Los Angeles, and salt lake railroad company. • Wants to connect pacific ocean with great salt lake. • Needs watering stop for his railroad.
1902 William Clark (Continued) • Buys 800 acres where downtown Las Vegas now located. • Paid $55,000 for the land.
Railroad Stop Needs a Town • In 1905, Clark divides land into 1,140 lots and sells the town sites for a total of $250,000. • County subsequently named Clark county.
Influx of Easterners • Opposed gambling. • In 1909 after 41 years of legal gambling, all forms were made illegal. • Law became effective October 1, 1910. • Prohibition ignored, gambling went underground.
Nevadan’s Had Grown Accustomed to Services Illegal Elsewhere • Prizefights • Easy divorces • Gambling
Jack Johnson • Born 1878 in Texas • First black heavyweight champion • Became champ in 1908 • Previous champ, Jim Jeffries (white), had retired undefeated in 1905 • Refused to fight Johnson because he was black
Fight of the Century Fight of the Century
“Fight of the Century” • Jim Jeffries comes out of retirement to “beat” Johnson • Fight held in Reno – July 4, 1910 • 22,000 attended fight • Billed as the first“the great white hope” • Johnson “kos” Jeffries in 15 round • First time Jeffries knocked down • Johnson earned $117,000 for fight
“Fight of the Century” • Race rioting breaks out • Films of victories over whites banned for fear of more riots
Jack Johnson Largely hated by most white America • Married 3 times to white women • Romantically involved with • German spy Mata Hari • Sex symbol Lupe Velez • Mae west
Persecution of Johnson • In 1912, Johnson frequently seen in company of white secretary Lucille Cameron • Charged under Mann act for taking Cameron across state line for “immoral purposes” • Court judge was Kenesaw mountain Landis • Johnson marries Cameron • Convicted in 1913 of Mann act • Sentenced to 1 year and a day in prison • Flees U.S. While under appeal • Spends 7 years on “lam”
Persecution of Johnson • Fights jess Willard in Havana in 1915. • Loses by ko in 26th, viewed by most as throwing the fight to be able to return to U.S. • Returns to U.S. In 1920. • Sent to Leavenworth. • Serves 1 year. • Killed in auto accident in 1946 (68 years old).
During Life, Jack Johnson • Owned jazz band • Owned night club • Acted on stage • Drove flashy sports cars • Seen walking pet leopard while sipping champagne • Had gold teeth and gold-handled walking stick • Charter member in boxing hall of fame
1911 Card Games Legalized • Social games like poker allowed provided operators paid off in cigars, drinks, or merchandise of nominal value. • No percentage could be taken and the deal changed.
1915 Prohibition Relaxed • Social games again permitted if deal changed. • Nickel slots permitted if they paid off in cigars or drinks.
Events That Changed Course of Nevada History • Stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent depression. • Funding of Hoover dam within 3 months of crash.
Depression’s Influence • 1931 was one of the worst depression years. • State needed money and stimulus for business.
A.B. 98, A.K.A. “Wide Open Gambling Bill” • Phil Tobin, 29 year old assemblyman from Winnemuca, introduces bill.
Legislators Felt Gambling Would • Provide state with revenues through gambling taxes. • Enhance business in general. • Most importantly: with coming of Hoover dam it was believed federal officials might move to close down Las Vegas’ illegal gambling.
A.B. 98 Signed Into Law March 19, 1931 • Same legislature lowered the residency requirements for divorce from 3 months to 6 weeks. • No method of regulation included in bill. Cheating and operating without license were forbidden but no state control provided.
Faro Monte Roulette Keno Fan-tan Twenty-one Blackjack Seven and a half Big Injun Craps Klondyke Stud poker Draw poker Slots Games Legalized
New Source of State Revenues • Card games charged $25 per month. • Slots charged $10 per month. • Table games charged $50 per month. • 75% to county, 25% to state. • Sheriff collected taxes.
Bull Pen Casino • 1932 gambling permitted at state prison. • Operated by inmates (game boss). • Offered poker, 21, craps, chuck-a-luck, roulette, and race & sports. • Each game boss required to contribute to inmate welfare fund. • Closed in 1967.
Northern Club • First gaming license issued in Nevada.
The Meadows Supper Club • Opened in Las Vegas on may 2, 1931. • Built by Tony Cornero, cost $300,000. • Had 100 rooms • grandest club in Nevada. • Adjacent airport • place to buy prohibited liquor.