History Of Riverboat Gambling

05 May 2009 | 10:59 Author: Alejandro López

One of the classic images of the American frontier era is that of the riverboat gambler.

In the early 19th Century, the Mississippi river provided an efficient method for transporting goods from state to state and so became a major center for trade. Since trade centers attract people with money, the Mississippi also attracted professional gamblers. At the time, a professional gambler was very often a card sharp, a cheat who manipulated cards to achieve their desired result.

Popular Online Casino Theme

Several Internet casinos today, especially the casinos accepting US players, use the classic riverboat theme to niche the casinos. However, you can still find several riverboat casinos in business in America - not just the replicas that can be found in Las Vegas hotels.

19th Century Riverboat Gambling

In 1835, five card sharps, no doubt caught in the act of card manipulation, were hanged in Mississippi. This understandably made other card sharps reluctant to spend too much time on dry land, and so many remained on the boats that carried traders from place to place, plying their trade on these riverboats in relative safety.

20th Century Riverboat Gambling

The first casino riverboat in the modern era appeared in Iowa in 1989. In the U.S., in the 20th Century, riverboat gambling served a very specific purpose. Since many states have laws that prohibit most types of gambling on dry land, gaming on the water has arisen as an alternative. Some riverboat casinos do not even go anywhere, but are rather docked a sufficient distance from the main land to avoid legal problems.

Riverboat Gambling Today

Modern riverboat casinos have games like blackjack and roulette and plenty of slot machines. These days, many even feature Texas hold'em tournaments, taking advantage of the 21st Century boom in interest in this poker game.


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