Gambling, the risky enterprise of chance, is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Office March Madness brackets, a day at the race track, a friendly wager, the random ridiculous Super Bowl prop bet, bingo night, or the latest media frenzy over the Powerball jackpot—all emphasize the ubiquity of this major economic force and cultural phenomenon. Approximately 70 percent of Americans regularly engage in some form of betting, amounting to over $140 billion in combined casino and lottery revenue every year. A hundred years ago, however, legal gambling was a rarity in the United States.
A fresh take on the history of modern American gambling, All In provides a closer look at the shifting economic, cultural, religious, and political conditions that facilitated gambling’s expansion and prominence in American consumerism and popular culture. In its pages, a diverse range of essays covering commercial and Native American casinos, sports betting, lotteries, bingo, and more piece together a picture of how gambling became so widespread over the course of the twentieth century.
Drawing from a range of academic disciplines, this collection explores five aspects of American gambling history: crime, advertising, politics, religion, and identity.
In doing so, All In illuminates the on-the-ground debates over gambling’s expansion, the failed attempts to thwart legalized betting, and the consequences of its present ubiquity in the United States.