Struggles in the Northeast

Horse racing was treated like the lotteries for many years. Finally, in 1771 the General Assembly of the Rhode Island passed 'An Act to Prevent Horseracing', ostensibly as a warning measure.

Although probably designed to ensure that all available horsepower would be devoted to the American Revolution, the act prohibited wagering on horse races, fixed a fine of 100 pounds for violations, and further provided for the forfeiture of horses run for a bet or wager.

Opponents of gambling also attempted to control those who directly fueled the common passion for it--- professional gamblers.

Most Americans at this time felt that the only acceptable occupation was one in which the individual contributed a useful service to society through disciplined and honest work.

The professional gambler represented the antithesis of this ideal, for he was lazy, undisciplined, and dishonest, and he gained his wealth through the victimization of others. The full time gambler was regarded as a parasite and a thief; as the Pennsylvania gambling law of 1847 indicates, he was found to be a nuisance to the body politic.

Private game playing by the average citizen did not necessarily arouse strong disapproval, and neither did the results of its efforts. There was no fault in an innocent and moderate recreation provided by the playing of games, but they were not to be played for something of value.

Maine's major gambling statute, patterned after Massachusetts', also emphasized the illegality of keeping a gambling house. The courts in Maine determined that there were two separate offenses: keeping a place for gambling and permitting persons to play any games for money in a house under one's care.

Although they brought with them a habit of hard work, they held to their age old traditions of gaming as a form of relaxation.

With the new industrialization migration to the cities and the development of factories, tension grew between the traditional legal minds and newer popular attitudes toward gambling, and enforcement of anti-gambling statutes became progressively more difficult.

The story of New York is in itself the story of the Northeast from 1830 to the 1970s. The pressure of the times was the evangelical Christian reform movement experienced in different forms in many parts of the country, whose impact was felt most strongly in the northern and western portions of the state, probably because of the large number of New England Protestants who had settled in those areas.

Liquor, slavery, the lack of institutions for the poor, and women's status as second-class citizens all came under attack. Thoughts on gambling were about to change.

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