A Gambling Timeline: NY and Beyond

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New York State joined MegaMillions in 2002.

Photo by: Karla Ann Cote

New York State joined MegaMillions in 2002.

Lotteries were a common part of life in early America, then disappeared for several decades before returning in the 1960s. New York State was the first state to ban lotteries in the 1800s, and only the second to welcome them back:

1607 Early American settlement at Jamestown is funded by a lottery—a common financing tool in the 1700s into the 1800s.

1776 Continental Congress authorizes a lottery to pay for the war against the British.

1833 New York becomes the first state to enact a constitutional ban on lotteries.

1878 Louisiana Lottery is the only state game still operating after a nationwide backlash.

1895 Louisiana Lottery folds after Congress bans the sale of lottery tickets across state lines.

1931 Nevada legalizes most forms of gambling. Massachusetts legalizes bingo.

1933 California, Michigan, New Hampshire and Ohio legalize parimutuel betting on horses.

1934 Puerto Rico establishes the first modern lottery in the United States.

1964 New Hampshire becomes the first state to authorize a lottery in modern times.

1967 New York lottery begins.

1970 Off-Track Betting is legalized in New York.

1976 Gambling is legalized in Atlantic City.

1986 Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot Tribe founds a bingo hall called Foxwoods.

1988 Multi-state Lottery Association—the forerunner of PowerBall is formed. Congress passes Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, permitting casinos on Indian territory.

1989 Iowa launches riverboat gambling; other states follow suit.

1996 The multistate lottery Powerball begins. Connecticut’s second casino, Mohegan Sun, opens.

2001 In a post-9/11 revenue-raising move, New York legalizes several Indian casinos and permits Video Lottery Terminals at several racetracks, turning them into “racinos.”

2002 New York begins selling its first multistate lottery tickets, as The Big Game gets renamed Mega Millions.

2006 Pennsylvania grants licenses to existing horse-racing facilities and stand-alone casinos.

2010 New York joins Powerball.

2011 Massachusetts legislature approves a plan to start three destination casinos in the state.

2013 New York State legislature passes the Upstate NY Economic Development Gaming Act, which places before voters the question of whether to approve full casinos. Wyoming becomes the 44th state to run a lottery.

TThis is one of a series of articles on the past, present and future of gambling in New York State. Click here to read more. The Fund for Investigative Journalism’s generous support made this series possible. Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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