Hey, if I didn't mention it before, there's a big Birthday Bash going on today in celebration of Nevada's 80th Anniversary of legalized Gambling. That's right - 80 years ago on March 19, 1931, Governor Fred Balzar signed the measure into law that allowed open gaming in Nevada.
It was Winnemucca legislator Phil Tobin who introduced the proposal, and after the Assembly voted 24-11 in favor, the State Senate voted 13-3 in favor. Was all that necessary? Yes, since it gave Nevada something to call their own, the only state with legalized gambling.
Gambling was already taking place all over Nevada, although most poker games were found upstairs or downstairs, away from the ground floor where a passersby might see something through the windows.
Bill Graham, part owner of the Bank Club in Reno, had guaranteed the passage of the bill to his landlord and "silent" partner George Wingfield by spreading around "campaign contributions." Graham and non-silent partner Jim McKay paid Wingfield rent and a piece of the action. Although the bill was supposed to help legitimize gambling and foster an open era, it didn't exactly stop unlicensed partners from pocketing plenty of skim from the casinos.
In fact, Wingfield kept chomping down his piece of the pie for another twenty years. By the time he was done eating, new players like John Drew (at the Bank Club) were having their cake and eating it too by sending off a little something to the big boys in Chicago.
Las Vegas casinos provided for the Mob in towns like Kansas City, New York, and Detroit. Now those places have their own casinos to worry about.
Nevada's issues with trying to stop the skim of casino profits persisted into the 1980's, or fifty years after the bill legalizing gambling was signed into law. Nothing happens overnight, but the industry and the Gaming Control Board eventually cleaned up the problems. Now the State's main problem is unemployment and the housing crisis. I guess things were easier 80 years ago.
Happy Anniversary Nevada - enjoy the cake, and may your current problems go away faster than your earlier ones, the gaming world still looks up to you.