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The 100 Most Significant Events of the 20th Century in Casino Gambling24 March 2001
What is the leisure time activity that more adult Americans participate in than any other? Going to movies? No. Playing softball? No. Golf? No. Bowling? Come on! Tennis? Oh, my aching elbow! Stamp collecting? No. Coin collecting? You're getting colder. Quilting? Sure, that's big with the truckers. Reading great literature? Ha! Ha! Ice cold. Freezing.
Think! Over 130 million people participated in this activity last year. Adult people. People with money. Yes, Virginia, I even saw a guy in a Santa Claus suit doing it last Christmas.
From kitchen poker games to sports and horse betting, to dogs and dominoes, more people gamble than do just about anything else other than eat, sleep, work and make more people.
And the biggest draw in the world of gambling is unquestionably casino gambling. The 20th Century has seen an explosion in legal casino gambling unequaled in the history of man. Las Vegas has gone from a sleepy little desert town to a sprawling metropolis. Atlantic City has been resurrected. Tiny delta counties such as Tunica have become giant pools of money. Riverboats ply the waves up and down the Midwest. And Indian casinos are changing the concept of the word reservation from a holding area for an oppressed people to: "We'll gladly take your reservation. Will that be a suite or a deluxe room, sir?"
No question, casino gambling was all the rage as our 20th Century and the Second Millennium came to a close and it does not show any signs of slowing down as the 21st Century and Third Millennium begin.
As with any activity of mankind, the people, places, and things of 20th Century casino gambling fill many volumes. Picking the top 100 events was not an easy task. I had plenty of help from a diversity of sources, many of which I list at the end of the article. Just about every gaming writer I asked to contribute his or her ideas was more than happy to help me out with this herculean effort. Not everyone wanted to be listed as a source and I have respected their anonymity. I give each and every one who helped me compile this list, whether credited or not, a sincere thank you. I couldn't have done it without them.
I am sure that for just about every event I have included, some reader can make a good argument for why I should not have included it but, instead, have included something else in its place. That's the nature of lists.
In my opinion, every event on this list has had an impact on casino gambling in some way, either directly (the creation of Megabucks), or indirectly (Howard Hughes moves to Las Vegas and buys seven casinos), or tangentially (Hoover Dam is completed). Some of the events have helped to create and promulgate casino lore, some simply made splashy headlines. But all were big in the casino scheme of things in my estimation as they have added to the mystique of casinos or casino towns.
[ 71.] 1986-1987: IGT introduces MEGABUCKS in 1986, the first multi-casino linked one-dollar progressive slot machine. The first jackpot starts at one million dollars. This ushers in the era of huge jackpots. As revealed by John Robison in the Summer 1999 issue of The New Chance and Circumstance Magazine, the odds of hitting the Megabucks jackpot are 49,846,031 to 1! On February 1, 1987 Terry Williams becomes the first person to win the Megabucks jackpot. He does so at Harrah's in Reno. He wins $4,988,842.14. In the shortest month of the year, Terry wins the biggest jackpot up to that time, with the longest odds of any bet in the casino. That's the long and the short of it! Poetic!
[ 72.] 1986-1989 Billy Walter's roulette teams win approximately $4,810,000 from casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Walters teams look for biased wheels and when they find them - wham!
[ 73.] 1988: Indian Gaming Act allows native Americans to operate casinos on their reservations. While some individuals might think that gambling will be a new venture by the Native American population, in fact it won't. Indians have a long tradition of gambling games and now they will be allowed to reinstitute this very important cultural activity. Who said cultural activities have to be boring?
[ 74.] 1988: Caribbean Stud is brought over from the islands and cruise ships to American casinos by Progressive Games, Inc. Caribbean Stud is now one of the "new" games that seems to have established a permanent niche in the table-game hierarchy, perhaps owing to the fact that players can win rather large sums on select hands, much like slot players can win large sums on select symbols.
[ 75.] 1988: Casino Player Magazine is founded by The Casino Journal Group. The magazine began as a tabloid to be found in Atlantic City hotel rooms. With smart marketing to players of all levels, good writing, and colorful layouts, Casino Player becomes the dominant gaming magazine in the country by the turn of the century.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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