Gambling and Lotteries
The legal gambling industry has experienced almost unparalleled growth in the past twenty-five years. In 1976 Americans bet $17.3 billion legally by 1996 they bet $586.5 billion. According to a 1999 Gallup Poll, 70 percent of adults and 26 percent of teens have taken part in some form of legal gambling, with lotteries being the favorite form of betting for most Americans. Fifty-seven percent of Americans have purchased a lottery ticket within the last year, while 31 percent have gambled in a casino. But these figures represent a fraction of the gambling that occurs in the United States, since much sports gambling is still illegal.
Until 1988 (leaving aside gambling on Wall Street), legal gambling included statecontrolled lotteries, casinos in and around Las Vegas, NV (since 1931) and in Atlantic City, betting at horseand dog-racing tracks (legal in thirty-six states) and all sports betting in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon. In that year, Congress passed the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, allowing Native Americans to operate casinos on their land, and this was followed by other communities endeavoring to cash in on expected gambling revenues. In 1989 Iowa became the first of several states to legalize riverboat gambling, and by the end of the 1990s there were over 170 casinos in twenty-five states. State lotteries began in New Hampshire in 1964, followed by New York State in 1967 and New Jersey in 1970. Within a year, lottery sales had surpassed the $100 million mark, and they were quickly adopted by numerous states, spreading by 1999 to thirtyseven states and the District of Columbia. In 1988 the Multi-State Lottery Association began combining lottery efforts in several states, leading ten years later to the worldrecord jackpot of $295.7 million for its "Powerball" game. States have used their lottery revenues for many things, initially largely for funding education and support for older citizens, but more recently for building new sports stadiums. While gambling has benefited some communities, others have suffered—from the displacement of residents occurring in Atlantic City to the organizedcrime involvement in the Las Vegas industry to the problems associated with addiction.
Illegal sports gambling has become mainstream from colleges to television sports shows, 90 percent of it focused on team sports (mainly football, followed by basketball and baseball). There are now more than 700 phone services offering advice and gambling tips, generating revenue in millions of dollars annually In the mid-1980s, Pete Axthelm gave point-spread picks on NBC's pre-game NFL show, while CBS countered with Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder (until he was fired for making racist comments). All newspapers now offer betting lines, including point spreads, and many provide columns with betting tips and advice. ESPN for a short time even presented Sportsline from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, providing lines and pre-game information on upcoming games. Growth of this illegal industry is likely to continue as Internet betting increases in popularity.
Sports gambling has been associated with many of the major sports scandals—from the beginnings of baseball in the nineteenth century through the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, to the seven college basketball point-shaving incidents from 1947 to 1950, down to more recent scandals at Tulane and Boston College. Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on games while he was coaching the Cincinnati Reds, and even Michael Jordan was forced to admit to a gambling problem that threatened his position in basketball.