Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Best of Frank Scoblete
The 100 Most Significant Events of the 20th Century in Casino Gambling17 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.
[ 46.] 1969: The first World Series of Poker is held at the Riverside Casino in Reno, Nevada. It is the brainchild of Tom Morehead.
[ 47.] 1970: Binion's Horseshoe takes over The World Series of Poker and holds the first annual World Series of Poker, which is won by Johnny Moss. This is indicative of the flow of events, as Las Vegas supplants Reno as the number one gambling destination in America. The World Series of Poker is now a major national event as it is televised on cable stations across the country.
[ 48.] 1970: Dale Electronics introduces the "Poker-Matic" draw poker machine to casinos. This early "TV" machine anticipates the exciting developments in the world of video poker.
[ 49.] 1971: Dr. Richard Jarecki wins approximately $1,280,000 at roulette from casinos in Monte Carlo and San Remo. Dr. Jarecki is a biased-wheel player who boasts that a giant computer at London University has given him the edge. At the time, no one believes a computer can do such things...in fact, they can't. Jerecki's story was simply a ruse to allow him to keep playing.
[ 50.] 1975: The first "video" slot machine debuts, created by the Fortune Coin company. Computer chips and RNGs will begin to dominate the slot machine market. Today just about every machine found in just about every casino is a computerized machine that uses a Random Number Generator to select the symbols that will appear on the reels or as cards that will appear on the screen.
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.
Best of Frank Scoblete