The casino stands as the great and most visible monument to the massive scale of the Gambling Industrial Complex in America. Just look across much of the American landscape, and you will see the glaring and garish lights of the casinos that serve to attract gamblers. It was not always so.

Indeed, for all but the last decade of the twentieth century, casinos were basically non-existent, except for those found in the state of Nevada. All that changed when states began to license and draw revenue from casino gambling. As Earl L. Grinols of the University of Illinois has commented: “Most areas of America had no legal casino gambling before 1990.”

As a matter of fact, such establishments had been virtually eradicated in the previous century. Grinols explains that casino gambling is “the only available example of an industry that was criminalized and intentionally eradicated in one century and reintroduced from zero in the next.”

What happened? In the late 19th century, social reformers saw gambling as an insidious plague that wrecked families, promoted anti-social behavior, and threatened the moral character of the entire nation. Their efforts to remove or eradicate gambling gained momentum in the early decades of the 20th century….

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