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The 100 Most Significant Events of the 20th Century in Casino Gambling3 February 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.
[ 36.] 1963: Bally's introduces its first electro-mechanical slot machine, the Money Honey. This machine has several revolutionary features including the first large hopper payout unit that can hold 2,500 coins. Bally's soon takes over as the number one slot machine developer and marketer of slots in the world.
[ 37.] 1964: The Gambler's Book Shop (also known as The Gambler's Book Club) is founded by John and Edna Luckman. This is the first book store (club) devoted exclusively to the gambler. It continues in operation at 630 South 11th Street Las Vegas, NV 89101. It has thousands of books, both new, used and collector's editions, on all forms of gambling. Contains a Gambling Hall of Fame that is a must see attraction. It is the "in" place for authors and experts, players and pundits to meet.
[ 38.] 1965: Allan N. Wilson publishes The Casino Gamblers Guide. While a mathematically oriented book that covers the most popular casino games of the period, Wilson's writing style and enthusiasm for the games comes shining through. The first and best treatment of the games from a mathematical perspective, true, but Wilson is not just a theorist. He is an avid player and his adventures are enjoyable to read. A classic. [Out of print.]
[ 39.] 1965: Muhammad Ali knocks out Floyd Patterson at the Sands. In the battle of champions, current champion Muhammad Ali tortures and torments former champion Floyd Patterson and ultimately gains a 12 round TKO when Patterson can't continue. Prior to the fight Patterson had refused to call Ali by his Muslim name, referring to him instead as Cassius Clay, the name Ali was given at birth. This fight is the first of the big heavyweight mega-fights to be hosted by a casino. In the future, Vegas will become the fight capitol of America, supplanting Madison Square Garden in New York. Casinos can afford to pay the fighters incredible purses because big fights attract the high rollers who love action.
[ 40.] 1966: Caesars Palace opens its doors. This hotel-casino, conceived and executed by Jay Sarno (who would later create Circus Circus, the first theme casino with children in mind) ushers in the age of elegance, luxury and extravagance surrounding a theme of Roman decadence. Until this time most casino "themes" were western. Even at the end of the 20th Century, in an age of mega-resorts, Caesars Palace is still synonymous with luxury and the high rolling life.
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 email@example.com.
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