Everyone is familiar with the idea of riverboat gambling. At least, anyone is familiar with the idea that has sat through a few classic western films. Cowboys, normally the kind with guns strapped to their hips and a quick trigger finger, are well known to have participated in gambling. Why, Wild Bill himself was killed during a game of poker, which just about says it all.

But, there was a difference between getting angry and shooting people in a dirty saloon, and on a boat cruising up the Mississippi. Wasn’t there? Just why were gambling river boats such a big thing back in the day? And why do they continue to be a thing, even to this day?

Let’s take a look and learn a bit more about riverboat gambling.

Gambling In The Old West

Gambling is a form of entertainment that has varying levels of acceptability in the eyes of the law. It is, of course, legal in many parts of the world, and a person can simply stroll into a casino and play to their hearts content. But in other parts of the world, you can pay a pretty hefty fine, and get a right ugly black mark on your name for doing so.

Well, back in the Old West, that’s the United States in the late 1800s, and early 1900s, we’re talking about; gambling was a pretty controversial subject. It was forbidden in many states in America, and a person had to be creative if they wanted to get in a game of blackjack. So, this gave rise to a solution that was rather sneaky for a number of reasons, and took advantage of a loophole in the law itself.

The River Boat Gambling Solution

Since gambling was forbidden on land, a few crafty people decided that this meant it must be completely legal on the water. A roundabout way of finding a solution to the problem, but one that worked never the less. So, very quickly riverboat gambling became a thing, and most rather liked the idea.

The riverboat casinos were still not, however, technically legal, but simply abusing a blind spot in the law. Either way, riverboat casinos gained massive popularity in a very short space of time. It was not long before the riverboat gambling fad leaned towards being the exciting thing for people to do at the time, and many riverboats geared themselves specifically to cater for the upper class of the time.

River Boat Legalisation

The popularity of riverboats did eventually fade, specifically as gambling laws became stricter, and more forcefully regulated. But, in the late 80s and early 90s the popularity of riverboat casinos returned in a big way, with the legalisation of riverboat casinos first in Iowa, quickly followed by Illinois and Louisiana. A person can now spend a relaxing time on a riverboat casino and be sure that they will be sitting in lap of luxury, with all the gaming fun they could ask for.

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