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date: 14 July 2020

Gambling in Northern US Cities 

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Urban History
Matthew VazMatthew Vaz

Beginning in the 1830s, as urban density increased, and as the first police departments were created, a particular formulation of urban politics emerged within which popular gambling was carried on in connivance with police and machine politicians, in spite of the letter of the law. Reformers sought to curb gambling, characterizing it as sinful, a form of organized crime, and as elemental to urban machine politics and corruption of government. Various gambling forms rose and fell in popularity, and different demographic groups had distinct experiences with the gambling economy. Yet the basic contours of disputation over the status of gambling in the urban North held firm until the 1970s, when the adoption of public lotteries throughout the region supplanted criminal gambling, and severed the gambling economy from police and politics, while the introduction of new technology broke the connection between gambling and urban density.... ...

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