Best Rated Online Casinos

Colonial Governments on Gambling

In Colonial America, both public and private lotteries were commonplace.

Lotteries were usually operated for a specific purpose or project rather than for ongoing activities as is the case with contemporary lotteries.

Once money was raised for a project, the lottery would cease operation, and another one might start up for another purpose.

Lotteries were also used to raise money to start what would become the nation's most prestigious private Ivy League universities.

Private lotteries were used to sell property, such as land and homes, that was too expensive for single individuals to purchase.

These private lotteries, really a special type of commercial transaction, were the first lotteries to become popular, and, because of the potential for fraud, the first to become regulated.

Colonial governments also used lotteries to raise money. They were, in effect, an alternative to unpopular taxation. Initially, private sponsors were chartered to run the lotteries, but charges of fraud led to government regulation in most colonies.

Lotteries of this kind were used to support churches, charities, hospitals, and schools, as well as to build bridges, roads, wharves, and defense installations.

After the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress authorized a lottery to raise $1.5 million dollars to finance the conflict with Britain.

People were urged to buy tickets as a way of contributing to 'the great and glorious American Cause'. Participation in the lottery was virtually equated with patriotism, but it was largely unsuccessful.

There were no prizes. Instead, ticket buyers were issued promissory notes. If England had won the war, the tickets would have been worthless.

This example illustrates governmental ambivalence toward gambling. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress had condemned gambling.

In an effort to develop revolutionary virtue, the Congress admonished people to give up every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse racing, and all kinds of gaming, cock fighting, and other expensive diversions and entertainments.

Despite the pervasiveness of gambling in colonial America, it was seen as a vice in many quarters, especially by religious leaders. Sociologists had provided a detailed account of religious opposition to gambling.

Throughout the colonies, gambling was criticized as a habit-forming, all-consuming passion that led to idleness, financial irresponsibility, dishonesty, and a passion for material gain.

From a religious perspective, gambling turned people away from God; when they lost, they blasphemed the Almighty, and when they won, they attributed it to their own skill or cleverness.

In Virginia in the 1750s, Samuel Davis, and evangelical Presbyterian minister, even blamed droughts and military defeats on Virginians' passion for gambling.

Link to top

Copyright © Best Rated Online Casinos
All Rights Reserved.