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The 100 Most Significant Events of the 20th Century in Casino Gambling7 April 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.
[ 81.] 1992: Shuffle Master Gaming introduces the first automatic single-deck shuffling machine and several other companies follow suit. However, in 1993 a team of blackjack advantage players analyzes another company's continuous shuffling machine's operations and devises a method for beating the game of blackjack by tracking the shuffle machine's shuffle. It's back to the drawing board for the executives at Shuffle Master and other manufacturers in order to prevent trackable shuffle-machine shuffles.
[ 82.] 1992-1993: Greek immigrant, Archie Karas has one the greatest runs in Vegas history. Starting with a borrowed stake of ten thousand dollars, Archie goes on a rampage of poker at Binion's Horseshoe, defeating 15 of the world's greatest poker players in head-to-head competition, including World Champions Chip Reese, Stu Unger, Puggy Pearson, and Johnny Chan. When he runs out of poker competitors, Archie heads to the Horseshoe's craps tables where he wins millions more. At one point in his run, Archie has all of the Horseshoe's $5,000 chips -- over 11 million dollars worth -- in his possession. When the run is over, Archie is up over 17 million dollars between poker and craps, all at the Horseshoe. And that ain't hay!
[ 83.] 1993: The casino domino effect hits Canada and in short order the provinces of Ontario and Quebec legalize and open casinos.
[ 84.] 1993: Let It Ride is introduced into casinos by Shuffle Master Gaming. This game becomes the second most popular table card game after blackjack in the casinos. It offers big payouts, relatively low minimums, and a chance to exercise some strategy decisions that actually increase or decrease the house's edge on the player.
[ 85.] 1994: Slots are legalized at racetracks in Iowa and Delaware, making racetracks "slot casinos." Do the one-armed bandits help the bottom line? Absolutely. In Iowa, the Prairie Meadows Race Track in Altoona makes one million dollars in its first weekend of slot operations. It was in bankruptcy and restructuring since 1991 when it lost 5.24 million in one year! At Delaware Park racetrack, the total handle for the first year of slot machines is a staggering, record-breaking 91 million dollars. The casino revenue king, slots, saves the sport of kings, horse racing. Machines replace animals to generate income for man... hmm, isn't that the way non-gaming history goes, too?
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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