Archive for April, 2010

On 23 July 1965, Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson issued Executive Order 11236, establishing the Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. Atty. Gen. Nicholas Katzenbach was asked to chair a nineteen-member commission whose numbers included former attorney general William P. Rogers; American Bar Association and later Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell; Julia Stuart, president of the League of Women Voters; New York City mayor Robert Wagner; Yale University president Kingman Brewster; Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler; San Francisco police chief Thomas Cahill; California attorney general Thomas Lynch; director of the Urban League, Whitney M. Young; federal judges Luther Youngdahl, James Parsons, Charles Breitel, and future Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski; and several leading law professors and attorneys. This blue ribbon panel worked for two years with 63 staff members and 175 consultants to produce its report, entitled The Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice 1967). The report, issued in February 1967, made over 200 recommendations. A new focus of this effort was placed upon victimization, as the commission conducted a survey of 10,000 households regarding their experiences with crime. A secondary focus was given to organized crime activity. Although gambling did not receive much attention, the report offered some strong words about the activity:
Law enforcement officials agree almost unanimously that gambling is the greatest source of revenue for organized crime…. In large cities where organized crime groups exist, very few of the gambling operators are independent of a large organization. Anyone whose independent operation becomes successful is likely to receive a visit from an organization representative who convinces the independent, through fear or promise of greater profit, to share his revenue with the organization.
The report suggested that gross revenues from gambling in the United States resulted in profits of $6 to $7 billion for organized criminals each year.
The recommendations did not include any that focused specifically upon gambling crimes; however, new weapons for dealing with organized criminals were advanced, including a clarified statute on the use of wiretapping, witness immunity and protection programs, special grand juries, and extended prison terms for criminals involved in illegal businesses (that is, gambling enterprise). Every law enforcement organization from the federal government down to the municipal level was urged to have an organized crime section, and citizens and business groups were urged to create permanent community crime commissions.

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My doctoral dissertation, “The Gambling Mystique: Mythologies and Typologies”, is the first major study of the positive effects of gambling for the nonproblem gambler. Until 1973, the literature dealing with gambling behavior had been overwhelmingly negative and focused almost entirely on compulsive gamblers. Wire service coverage and an article, “The Future of Gambling” in the Futurist magazine (Campbell 1976), gave me more than my fifteen minutes of fame, and I must admit that it was rewarding to pick up the newspaper and find Dr. Joyce Brothers citing my saying that “casinos don’t cause compulsive gambling any more than soap causes compulsive hand-washing”. It was even rather entertaining to walk into a session at a gaming conference in Montreal and hear my words in slightly altered form supposedly coming from the mouths of other gamblers.
It is my view that gambling represents a preservative rather than a destructive impulse. When I began writing about gambling, a prevailing view was that all gamblers were masochistic and had a profound desire to lose. Leading the attack was Edmund Bergler, who saw gambling as an attack on bourgeois values, reducing them to absurdity, and the gambler as a “private rebel” who attacks societal norms with dice, stocks, and chips rather than guns or ballots. One wonders what he would think of today’s trading revolution (Bergler 1957).
Although I have continued to take an essentially phenomenological approach to gambling, viewing the gambler as part of the entire context in which he or she exists, today’s context is wildly different from that of twenty-five years ago. The twenty-first century has arrived with a vengeance in all of its cyber and virtual glory. In a world of cybersex, daytrading, extreme sports, and robot technology rivaling anything in science fiction, the casino gambler no longer stands out as one of Bergler’s social rebels, although I believe the rebel still gambles for the same reasons – an altered state of consciousness that offers hope, opportunities for decision making, possible peak experience, and a respite from the day’s cares, a minivacation, if you will. Note that I am speaking here of normal gamblers, not desperation gamblers.
For its adherents, gambling is a form of adventure and sometimes of therapy. As far back as the sixteenth century, universal genius and gambler Girolamo Cardano prescribed gambling to alleviate melancholy, noting that “play may be beneficial in times of grief and the law permits it to the sick and those in prison and those condemned to death”. Although the altered state of gambling provides part of the therapy in the action, it is the wins, few as they may be, that count. As a young friend of mine who prefers casinos to tranquilizers after a hard day teaching high school says, “It’s ecstasy, it’s Paris, France that is. I’ve been to Paris on a handful of quarters. On my income by the time I saved enough I would be too old to go. Oh, the casino is a wonderful place”.
Today’s adventurer gamblers can enhance their experience by prowling the alternate reality of their choice, the Las Vegas Strip obligingly having turned into a form of virtual reality. Almost as quickly as you can change channels on your television set, you can move from Mandalay Bay to Egypt or Rome or a horde of other destinations. You pay your money and walk into the fantasy of your choice, which may be one of the reasons that the Wizard of Oz theme failed at the MGM.  Although the casino is definitely not Kansas, it seems to me unlikely that many people revving up for an evening at the tables or machines want to identify with Dorothy or the Tin Woodman. The casino gambler may have isolated himself or herself from nature, but not from a need for sensate experience, an experience that for good or ill moves ever closer to virtual reality, a concrete fantasy that provides escape from the mundane.
Casinos even present a kind of in-house camaraderie. A fellow feeling exists among card players that may not always be present in the real world. At the blackjack table, players all face the same odds whether they are betting five or 500 dollars and have a common adversary in the dealer. Here cultural and racial differences and biases disappear during the action, often, sadly, to be replaced after the players leave the tables and reality returns.
Even machines take on personalities in these palaces of escape. I have always been fascinated by relationship between machine gamblers and their adversaries. In my early research I cited an elderly woman who said that she played because she was lonely, and the machines seemed friendly and acknowledged her existence. To her the ringing bells and flashing lights of even a small payoff said, “I like you”.
To see that this feeling is not isolated, one need only observe the give-and-take that goes on between player and machine. I have created a brief typology that illustrates some of the major behaviors. Except where noted, these behaviors are common to both genders. There is the Lover, whose hands move softly over the machine or gently slide up and down the handle, when such exists, as though it were a beloved other, caressing it, trying to lure it into spewing its riches into his hands. Not for nothing is gambling parlance studded with sexual terms such as betting “the come” or the “don’t come”. The Patter, a variation on the Lover, softly pats the sides of the machine, all the while talking to it. More violent, Thumpers beat a rhythmic tattoo on the side of the machine, while Ragers, almost always male, literally pound the machines with their fists and both cajole and threaten them in language fine for television but probably not appropriate for this entry, seeming to believe that they can bully the machines into submission. In contrast, the Pleader maintains a constant dialogue with the machine, usually referring to it as “baby” as he begs for its favors. Players sit silently in front of their idols, lips constantly moving.
Perhaps the most annoying to other players are Singers, usually out of tune, and Whistlers, totally oblivious to those around them (at least I hope they are) and seemingly less in communication with the machine than the others I have mentioned. All, however, regardless of their annoyance factor, are totally absorbed in “the action” within the world of the machine, largely unaware of anything going on around them and often of their own behaviors. They have for the moment escaped. You have probably noticed as have I an uncanny resemblance to the relationships between hackers and their machines, which also carry their users to alternate realities.
Clearly everything about casinos is designed to assist gamblers in slipping the perceptual boundaries of their worlds. Linear time and space are smashed. Themed casinos representing diverse historical eras and geographical settings help to destroy the concept of an orderly, linear time line and traditional geography. I think we need note that theming is not confined to businesses but has become a part of home decor and planned communities everywhere.
In the twenty-first century, we no longer collectively believe in a linear universe of simple cause and effect.  We now know that we dance on a web of intersecting realities, where the effect of the flapping of a butterfly’s wing in Hong Kong can escalate to create a dust storm in Las Vegas. In essence, as chaos theory explains, everything influences everything else.
Greed is not the primary motive for these new beliefs. The motive is the slipping of ordinary perceptual bounds and moving into the intensity of another reality.

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Which Culture Is Nevada’s?

These events suggest a misread of the I culture that may also have been implicit in Elazar’s placement of Nevada in the I complex. The culture is not the activity of private individuals. That Nevada has many “free spirits” and “gamblers” does not mean that the government is also a “free spirit” for sale to the highest bidder. Rather, Hulse seems to offer more poignant words in support of the notion that Nevada has been a traditionalistic (T) state, quite like the states of the South that seemed the only major bastions of T culture in Elazar’s study.
James Hulse writes, “Nevada as a political and social entity has from the beginning been especially vulnerable to [an] ambitious and wealthy oligarchy… largely because of its inherently weak and impoverished economic situation”. He goes on to suggest that the pattern has survived to this day, with the state being “exceptionally receptive to those with large amounts of money” (6) He then singles out persons of the gambling industry: William Harrah, Howard Hughes, Kirk Kerkorian, and Steve Wynn. Hulse even indicates that the state was exceedingly warm to mobsters who were essential in the expansion of the casino industry. Then he adds that “gambling control agencies were designed not only to regulate [gambling] but also to protect it from those elements that might… endanger its prosperity. Likewise, Nevada’s Senators and Representatives in Washington and the elected state officials have assumed the position of feudal knights protecting their domain from challengers” (7). The leaders were not merely brokers giving government favors to the winners in some marketplace of policymaking.
A new population influx has made Nevada what California was just a few decades ago – the fastest-growing state in the Union. Great population influxes changed California’s collective political orientations, as illustrated by Peter Schrag’s Paradise Lost (1998). The state moved away from an M culture as a lower-income population both grew and demanded more services at the expense of older Californians. So too did population changes make the Old South different in the latter decades of the past century.  The population growth of Nevada, however, has not made noticeable changes in the orientation of politics in the Silver State. Of course such growth could have an influence if it continues. Many of the newcomers, however, are drawn to the state because of its low-cost and high-employment environment. In both cases, these attractive attributes are tied to the state’s reliance upon domination by a single industry. Quite frankly, although the state’s business climate regularly ranks at the top or in the top two or three places in Inc. Magazine rankings, the state does not attract nongambling enterprises in numbers sufficient to absorb employment demands of new residents. Newcomers also appreciate the very low state taxes, which are among the lowest in the nation. This is especially the case with senior citizens attracted to the several new Sun Cities of the Las Vegas area.
Nevertheless, there is a crisis of public services much like that witnessed in California. The school population is growing, and the Clark County school district does not have the tax resources to hire sufficient teachers or to build new school buildings fast enough. The state is also facing crises in transportation and the environment.
The casino industry is quite willing to let the politicians have a “free vote” on school issues or almost any other issue that does not directly affect their interests. They closely keep their eyes on tax policies, however. Here they are like residents – they appreciate low taxes. There have been calls for incremental tax increases from some and for monumental increases in gambling taxes by others. In the latter case, one state senator has called for a doubling of the gambling tax rate. In the 1998 gubernatorial primary, he also advocated higher gambling taxes. This was a unique stand, as all legislators in the state have taken campaign funds from the gambling industry. But the word unique is not a word to crave when seeking votes. The good senator won 15 per cent of the vote. That 15 percent probably represents a reasonable number for a subculture of Nevada that wants the casinos to pay much higher taxes.
In 1994, a feature story in Time magazine called Las Vegas “America’s City” and indicated that the city was not becoming like the rest of the nation but that rather the rest of the nation was becoming like Las Vegas (Andersen 1994). Perhaps the rest of the nation finds the “free spirit” life of Las Vegas inviting. The other states have embraced the gambling industry, and by doing so, they have allowed Nevada to have allies in its fights against federal interference with casinos. No other state has fallen into a posture of allowing gambling interests to completely dominate its politics, however. In the other states, such as California, the gambling interests have to fight out their battles against other interests that are already organized. The welcoming of gambling is an indicator that these states in many cases may have abandoned Elazar’s M culture. It is not an indicator that I cultures have fallen.
Nevada has played its politics game within the tenets of the T culture. In the past, Nevada felt it had to fight competition from other states that might have desired to have casinos. But now gambling has spread to all corners of the nation, and the game on gambling issues need not be played in a way that precludes compromises with competing states. The fear that a national political establishment will now ban all gambling, once a major fear for Nevadans, no longer grips the state. Unlike the Old South, which embraced a T culture when it was opposed by all the other regions of the nation, Nevada has seen much of the nation become as it is – gambling territory. Nevada now has allies in every region, something the South never had on race issues.

Contemporary Cultures and Interstate Cooperation on Gambling Issues

California voices are occasionally heard calling for wide-open casino gambling in order to check the outflow of money that its citizens take to Nevada casinos. Internal fights among various components of California’s gambling interests – tracks, card clubs, Native Americans, the lottery – will probably preclude this real threat to Nevada gambling from occurring within the foreseeable future. The compromise of Proposition 1A has also made California Native American gaming acceptable to Nevada—not only acceptable but also an opportunity for Nevada industry investment. Moreover, Nevada’s failure to attract manufacturers that can provide a large portion of supplies to the casinos means that the Silver State’s main industry will continue to support California’s industries with purchasing activities that will largely offset the Golden State’s citizens’ losses in the green-felt jungles of Glitter Gulch.

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Political Culture and Nevada: Reassessing the Theory – Gambling in America (part IV)Nevada Gambling

Gambling activities persisted in early Nevada, although casinos were made illegal for a brief time after statehood was granted.  By the turn of the twentieth century, however, the Progressive movement was gaining strength across the United States and in the Silver State. In concert with temperance organizations, civil leaders attacked the local sin industries. They approached the state legislature and gained passage of a bill that closed the casinos on 30 September 1910.
By 1911, the legislature had second (and third) thoughts. Certain card games were legalized, only to be made illegal again in 1913. In 1915 limited gaming was permitted again. Enforcement of the gaming limits was sporadic at the best and nonexistent as a rule. In lieu of fees when gaming was legal, operators now paid bribes to local officials who pretended that gaming did not take place.
A move to legalize gambling was revived in 1931 when Nevada assemblyman Phil Tobin of Humboldt County introduced the legislative measure. Although opposition was voiced by religious groups, Tobin’s bill passed the assembly on a 24 to 11 vote and the state senate by 13 to 3. On 19 March 1931, Gov. Fred Balzar signed the measure to legalize casino gambling. A second law passed later in 1931 permitted local governments to regulate gambling and fixed fees for the gaming statewide. The fees were shared, with 75 percent going to local governments and 25% to the state. Licenses were granted by county commissions, and all regulations were enforced by the sheriff.
State regulation began in the 1940s as larger gambling operations were established, and casino gambling began to emerge as the state’s dominant industry. In 1950 the state weathered the first concerted national attack on its casino industry. The U.S. Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce (the Kefauver Committee) targeted Nevada. The state resisted the attack through the efforts of its congressional delegation and also by means of the adoption of new rules for licensing and controlling casinos. In 1955 a full-time Gambling Control Board was established. In 1959, the state responded to continuing attacks that now came from the McClelland Committee, which included Sen. John F. Kennedy (D-MA) and had his brother, Robert, as its special counsel, by adding the Nevada Gaming Commission to strengthen its regulatory framework. During the 1960s more federal attacks ensued, and governors Grant Sawyer and Paul Laxalt coordinated the state’s response by inviting Howard Hughes to the state in 1966 to become a major player by buying out casinos tied to Mob interests.
In 1969 the state authorized publicly traded companies to own casinos, hence welcoming a type of federal control over big operators – through the Securities and Exchange Commission. The state also strengthened its control over casino operators by banning licensees from having gambling operations in other jurisdictions. This ruling was later modified in 1977 to allow licensees to go into New Jersey. This change was effectuated after Nevada reviewed New Jersey regulatory structures to assure that they would adequately oversee casino operations in such a way that no federal authorities would challenge their industry.
The Las Vegas casino interests had not taken a role in the New Jersey casino campaigns of 1974 and 1976 (when the vote was successful). The competition from the East blindsided Nevada. Coupled with a general national economic slump, in the early 1980s Nevada casinos had their only three-year period (since statistics were gathered) when gambling revenues fell in terms of constantvalue dollars. Nonetheless, the casinos stood by silently during the 1984 California lottery campaign. Nevada was very much aware of the possibilities of harm that could be done to its industry by Indian gambling, however, seeing the harm in terms of unregulated gambling that would draw organized crime and consequently discredit all casinos. Native Americans saw it differently. They saw Nevada as only fearing the competition they would give. In any event, the Nevada congressional delegation came forth with the proposals for a national law to regulate the Native American gambling after the U. S.  Supreme Court in the Cabazon case of 1987 said states could not regulate the gambling without an act of Congress. After the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed, Nevada interests provided research help for state attorneys general throughout the nation who stood in opposition to Native American gambling. In most cases the Nevada interests and state attorneys general lost their battles.
During the 1990s, Nevada interests, with the support of Nevada political leaders, continued to fight for the gambling industry. Nevada participated in a congressional initiative to limit sports betting to Nevada and three other states where it already existed – although not in the open way it exists in Nevada. In 1993, the Nevada legislature abolished its rule precluding Nevada licensees from participating in gambling elsewhere. Other states had succumbed to the inevitability of Native American casinos, and eventually nine additional states permitted commercialized casino gambling. The Nevada casino industry was quite eager to be able to cash in on opportunities to manage Native American casinos or to have their own gambling halls in other states.
A new threat to the gambling industry came in 1994 when Pres. Bill Clinton proposed a 4 percent surtax on all gambling winnings in the United States. As lotteries and Native casinos were exempted, it was clear that the impact of the tax would fall upon the casinos of Nevada. The state (which cast majorities for Clinton in both 1992 and 1996) rallied together in opposition. While the congressional delegation did its job in Washington the casinos formed a new national lobbying bloc – the American Gaming Association (AGA). The AGA read Clinton’s message well, and campaign funds started to flow. Ironically, the Clinton election team was probably the biggest beneficiary of this money spigot. In 1996 the AGA and Nevada forces sought to prohibit the creation of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. Failing in this endeavor, they succeeded in limiting the powers of the commission, and they gained control over several of its appointments. The venom of the commission – which was led by a decidedly antigambling chairwoman – was deflected away from commercial casinos and onto targets such as Native American casinos, lotteries, and Internet gambling. Betting on college games also attracted commission opposition, leading to proposed legislation to effectuate a ban. Again the Nevada political forces closed ranks in defense of the status quo monopoly the state’s gaming industry has over this form of gambling.
The 1998 approval of Proposition 5 in California presented the greatest threat to Nevada casinos since the Kefauver hearings of the 1950s. After it was set aside by California courts, Nevada interests were content to accept the compromises of the new Proposition 1A. It is possible that Proposition 1A will now allow the casinos of Nevada and the Nevada political establishment to build important bridges to California and its power structure (See Native American Gaming: Contemporary).

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Political Culture and Nevada: Reassessing the Theory – Gambling in AmericaThe Twentieth Century – Prelude to the New Gambling Era

While California was establishing itself as the Golden State, Nevada was sinking constantly into disrepute. In that disrepute, however, Nevada found the final solution to its economic conundrum – Nevada found wide-open mass-marketed casino gambling. Before that discovery in the 1940s and 1950s, the state had built in its style of political power. During the Progressive era and through the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, the state had essentially abolished a notion of competitive two-party politics. As alluded to earlier, George Wingfield was the “boss” of both parties early in the century. Wingfield’s office was in room 201 of the Reno National Bank Building, and that room was considered the “real capital of Nevada”. Wingfield was the head of the state Republican party. Anyone who wished to speak to the head of the Democratic party did not have to seek out a different address, however. The party chairman was in the same office – he was Wingfield’s junior law partner. They shared the same telephone number, 4111. The bipartisan Wingfield machine purposely sought to send one Democrat and one Republican senator to Washington.
This pattern allowed the state to have two members on the same committee in the Senate – the committee of choice was the one with power over mining issues. The pattern also allowed the state to have a Senate delegation with considerable seniority. Two “key” Democrats gained control of important committees where they could trade favors and votes in manners that could benefit the state in different ways. The incurable alcoholic Key Pittman became the chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee during Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s difficult years prior to World War II. Pittman’s considerable embarrassments were overlooked; he died in 1940 before he could ruin U.S. international relations during the war years. Toward the middle decades, Wingfield’s role was absorbed by the jingoist senator Patrick McCarran (for whom, ironically, the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport was named). Senator McCarran used his seniority to join hands with U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) in his witch-hunts against real and imagined communists. He sponsored very restrictive immigration legislation as well. McCarran was a force in putting boundaries around the anticasino work of Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. And both McCarran and Pittman managed to get considerable “pork” for the state in the form of military facilities as well as that plum of all plums – the Nevada Test Site, the facility for atmospheric atomic bomb testing. Fortunately (for Nevadans), most “downwinders” lived in Utah.
State leaders measured their performance in political office in very mundane terms, and most were judged on their personalities. Although individual leaders were permitted to pursue progressive or populist causes on a wide range of issues, they pursued one general protection on all essential issues: They did what was necessary to guarantee that the state’s primary industry was protected. There were no noticeable differences in defending gambling policies whether the governor was civil libertarian Grant Sawyer, arch conservative Paul Laxalt, education reformer and labor advocate Mike O’Callahan, Republicans Bob List or Kenny Guinn, or Democrats Richard Bryan or Bob Miller. The public showed a great willingness to elect to the Senate extreme conservatives such as Laxalt and Chic Hecht (who called Jesse Helms “my liberal friend”), or liberal activists such as Harry Reid and Howard Cannon. All were “free” to pursue any national policies they wished to pursue. They had to be united, however, on defending gambling and on funding state military projects, including nuclear testing. More recently they have had to staunchly oppose the storage of nuclear waste in the state.

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A Reassessment of the Categorization of Nevada as an I Culture

My research leads me to offer a dissent to the distinguished trio, claiming instead that Nevada represents a prototypical example of the T culture. Indeed, I suggest that Nevada may be the only pure example of a state T culture in the United States today. The states identified by Elazar as T states included most of those in the Old South (former Confederate states). They, of course, were isolated in their defense of slavery, and then after emancipation, in their defense of states’ rights policies designed to support an apartheid posture to life. Isolation of the South grew during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, and as the racist separation policies fell under the force of national edicts for change, a wave of change ensued throughout the South. Nevada had also been isolated, with its adherence to gambling policies, and a national political establishment also demanded change – an elimination of Mob-controlled casino gambling – in the same decades as the civil rights era. While Nevada was resisting that change, gambling enterprise entered into the economic and political fabric of many other states. Gambling spread first with horse racing, then with government-operated lotteries, and finally with casino gambling that in the form of games was quite similar to that found in Nevada. On the one hand, the T culture of the Old South was overwhelmed with national opposition; the T culture of Nevada, on the other hand, survived to a point where the rest of the nation came to accept the critical element of the Nevada political establishment—the defense of a casino industry.
To a large degree, communities in both California and Nevada began in a similar way. People were attracted to the possibilities of “getting rich quick”. John A. Sutter, a pioneer settler in California, discovered gold on his land near Sacramento in 1848. Word quickly spread. Between 1848 and 1860 the population of California went from less than 30,000 to nearly 400,000. Statehood came in 1850, and California entered the union as a wild and sinful place. Nevada’s society developed around the discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver in 1859. Populations rushed in from both the East and the West (California prospectors), creating a society that mirrored that of its wild neighbor to the west. Nevada statehood came not as a natural response to the growth of an American population but as a response to political needs in Washington, D.C. Abraham Lincoln had political struggles. Congress had proposed the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, but states (even some northern states) had been reluctant to ratify the amendment. Lincoln needed another vote, and Nevada’s ratification vote was the one necessary for the 13th amendment to take effect. The state’s birth thus can be associated with freedom. Lincoln also wanted congressional support for the proposed 14th and 15th amendments, and Nevada gave that support – especially in the Senate, where it had two votes just as did the biggest states. And, of course, Lincoln also wanted to be reelected, and Lincoln thought his 1864 opponent Gen. John McClelland would have a strong campaign. Nevada gave Lincoln its three electoral votes – just in time. Statehood was granted on 31 October 1864, just one week before the presidential election. (The timing was perfect, as today Nevada is the only venue of the union that makes Halloween an official state holiday!)
After the initial wave of miners, Nevada’s population development slowed. The second wave of family population that hit California completely missed Nevada in the nineteenth century. When mining resources dwindled, Nevada communities became ghost towns. The state’s population fell from a peak of almost 63,000 to less than 50,000 in 1890. There were actually discussions in the nineteenth century and even later that pondered the notion of revoking statehood status because of depopulation. It also can be noted that in 1922 the Methodist church removed “district status” from the state and designated Nevada as a “mission”. Early-on, sin represented a style of life as well as economic opportunity for part of the population; and when mining collapsed, there were no serious efforts to interfere with the jobs provided by alcohol, gambling, and prostitution, albeit a prohibition and antigambling crusade was played out to formal success, then totally ignored.
Early in the state’s history a defense against the outside world was necessitated by the declining mining industry. Control of politics was in hands of railroad giants. The Big Four (Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Colis Huntington, and Charles Crocker) who controlled California also controlled Nevada. Nevada was in a sense their colony. Gilman Ostrander has chronicled the era in his book Nevada: The Great Rotten Borough 1859–1964. One force kept Nevada’s neighbor California supporting Nevada’s existence as a state – its two votes in the U.S. Senate. The California railroad interests wanted the votes to support their interests, but also the seats represented desirable commodities for social reasons. During the latter decades of the nineteenth century, on at least five occasions California-based Senate candidates made overt purchases of elections from the Nevada legislature. In Washington they did not distinguish themselves in any way, and the representation they gave to Nevada interests was minimal—beyond resisting attempts to place the issue of rescinding statehood on the national agenda.
The system of boss selection of senators changed little as the state embraced popular election of senators along with the rest of the nation. By the time the 17th amendment took force, Nevada had a political boss – George Wingfield – who effectively controlled both parties. Personality battles over offices manifested themselves, but the contestants made little noise on policy matters that counted.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Francis Newlands, one of the senators who purchased his seat, emerged as a national leader of Progressives. He was the son-in-law of another Nevada senator who had purchased his U. S. Senate seat—William Sharon. Newlands distinguished himself in the field of conservation. In that role he served Nevada well, as he advocated a national involvement in projects that could reclaim lands for farming and provide water for western communities. The progressive Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 bears his name. Although Newlands believed that the national government should be a positive force in people’s lives, and such notions may have been against fears Nevadans had of federal control of their activities, a pattern was being established. Nevadans then and even now show a tremendous tolerance for its national leaders’ pursuing a variety of causes – liberal, conservative, moderate – as long as they adhere to the central cause of protecting the state’s economic base and its right to pursue its economic future as it pleases.
Nevadans survived threats to statehood, but they still had to make their own way economically. In the nineteenth century, many individual Nevadans felt that “making their own way” meant they had to leave the state, and many did. Those who stayed tried many things. They always fought to make mining work, but it could not do so in a reliable way over generations. The state occupied space and took advantage of that simple fact. The state sought to become a center for business incorporation in the way that Delaware was in the East. This effort was short lived, as California refused to recognize Nevada corporations unless they met California standards. The state allowed boxing matches when California refused to; the Jeffries versus Jackson “Great White Hope” match of 1910 in Reno was the most famous one until the modern era. The state permitted prostitution to remain legal in registered brothels; even today this activity continues in several of the state’s counties. Nevada sought to become the divorce capital of the country, as it had very lax rules on exactly who was a resident of the state – it being necessary that one party of a divorce be a resident. The state also sought tax revenues from commerce moving across its borders to and from California. Additionally, the state became a warehousing center by eliminating inventory taxes.  In all these things, Nevada was somewhat different or even exceedingly different from other states. The first duty of the political establishment was to protect the economic life of the state, and often this meant protecting the ability of the state to be different. Populism was acceptable when it accomplished the essential goals, progressivism was acceptable when it accomplished the essential goals, and so too were activities that seemed to be of an I, M, or T culture.

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How can the culture of a people be related to policies regarding gambling? A political culture is a collective set of beliefs and values that can define how a people orient themselves toward government in general and what their feelings are about their own political jurisdiction, political participation and rules of participation, their obligations as citizens, their attitudes toward their fellow citizens, and their attitudes toward their leaders. The late Daniel Elazar, a renowned political scientist, postulated that although there was a dominant type of political culture for the United States reflecting our national heritage and our national system, there were major subtypes of political cultures in different parts of the US. He identified three such subtypes: the (I)ndividualistic, (M)oralistic, and (T)raditionalistic.
The I culture envisions a democratic order expressed through a marketplace of issues. Government does not exist to create “a good society” but rather to respond to demands of citizens on economic and other issues. Mass political participation is not encouraged, as politics is an activity reserved for “professionals”, not amateurs. Policymaking is transactional, a bargaining process between self-interested groups and individuals. People who seek political office do so as a means of controlling the distribution of rewards of government, not of pursuing programs and/or ideology. Politics is like horse trading.
The M culture was brought to the New World by the Pilgrims and then the Puritans who set up a series of religious colonies in New England.  The M culture emphasizes the commonwealth as the basis for democratic government. Politics is considered a lofty pursuit in humankind’s search for the “good society”. Although politics is a struggle for power, it is also an attempt to exercise that power for the betterment of the commonwealth. Government is a positive instrument to promote the general welfare, which is more than a balance of or the sum of individual interests. Citizen participation is an essential ingredient in the M culture. Politics is the concern of every citizen. Thus it is the citizens’ duty to participate. Those who serve in government and politics assume high moral obligations.
The T political culture had its roots in British royalty. It persisted past the revolutionary years within the United States in the plantation South, where citizens were seeking economic opportunity through their agricultural system. That system relied to some degree upon the institution of slavery. According to Elazar, the T culture is based upon an ambivalent attitude toward the marketplace coupled with an elitist conception of society. The T political culture reflects an older, precommercial attitude that accepts a largely hierarchical society and expects those at the top of the social order to take a special and dominant role in government. That role is defined as keeping the existing social order. Government functions to continue to confine real political power to a comparatively small and self-perpetuating elite who often inherit their “right” to govern through family or social ties. Those who do not have a definitive role to play in the political system are not expected to become active in politics.
Elazar seeks to categorize each state as well as regions within states with one of the three subtypes, or with a combination of the subtypes of political cultures. Elazar placed Nevada clearly under the I culture category, although he did not specifically discuss Nevada politics. Nevada historian James Hulse offers a commentary. He correctly reads Elazar’s description of I culture, saying that it “assumes that the function of the marketplace is given top priority” by the government. He goes on to indicate, “Nevada as a society has been relaxed, permissive and at times even reckless in its receptivity to the individualistic prospector and promoter. The contemporary gamblers on both sides of the betting tables belong in that category”.
Furthermore, the position that Nevada is an I culture is espoused by state senator Dina Titus, Democratic leader of the Senate and also a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She offers that Nevadans are notoriously antigovernment, indicating that their greatest antipathy is directed toward Washington and that they resent any mandates imposed from “inside the Beltway.” Indeed, in support of the argument, both the Sagebrush Rebellion (an effort to have the federal government return lands to state control) and a County Supremacy Movement originated in Nevada. Closer to home, Nevadans’ suspicions of government are reflected in the maintenance of a “citizen legislature” that meets for only 120 days every other year and is hamstrung by such constitutional restrictions as a requirement for a two-thirds majority vote on any new tax levy and also a term limit of twelve years service. There are also provisions for extensive direct democracy via recall and initiative procedures. Although Nevadans do cherish their ability to keep government at a minimum, Titus relates that they seldom exercise the power they have, which is also consistent with the I culture identified in Elazar’s model.
Senator Titus also points out the fact that the state has very low voter registration and turnout. In addition, partisanship is extremely weak, as many if not most voters split their tickets frequently. Pragmatic politics prevails over ideology, and libertarian values are espoused by both major parties. Finally, Titus, as did Hulse, emphasizes that Nevada’s independent attitude is reflected in a myriad of “anything goes” policies adopted over the years.  Protecting personal freedoms is a priority, as she points out in policies such as the prohibition against one-party wire taps, the legalization of medical marijuana, and the existence of lawful prostitution in parts of the state. Nevada also prides itself on being the “Delaware of the West” when it comes to corporation statutes, moreover, the state has promulgated fewer environmental regulations on business than most states. “Individualism?” she asks. Where else, for example, can you build a roller coaster atop a 115-story tower next door to a wedding chapel with a drive-through window and a mechanical arm that throws rice on your windshield? Where else can you breastfeed your baby in public while carrying not one but as many concealed weapons as you desire?
The arguments that Nevada has essentially an I culture may be many, but are they necessarily conclusive?

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Poker - Gambling in AmericaPoker is the most widely known card game. In one or another of its many formats, it is played more often than any other game. Live poker games are typically player-banked games that involve not only the luck of drawing certain cards but also much skill in determining how the cards should be played in order to defeat the hands held by other players. Some forms of the game, typically those played with machines (video poker), are house-banked games in which the player seeks to achieve hands of certain values in isolation of any other hand, whether held by a person or by a machine. (As the preponderance of poker players are male, in this entry I will use male gender forms to refer to players).

The Poker Hand

All poker games are based upon the value of a five-card hand. The ten best hands are listed here in descending order.
1. A royal flush consists of an ace, king, queen, jack, and 10, all of the same suit (e.g., all hearts or all spades).
2. The straight flush also consists of five cards in the same suit and also in order. Next to the royal flush, the best straight flush would be king, queen, jack, 10, and 9 of the same suit.
3. Four of a kind consists of four aces, four kings, four 2s, and so on.
4. A full house consists of three of a kind and two of a kind (a pair). The highest-ranking full houses have the top three of a kind (three aces and another pair).
5. A flush consists of five cards all of the same suit but not necessarily in any order or sequence.
6. A straight is a consecutive sequence of cards that are not necessarily of the same suit, for instance, a 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of varying suits.
7. In a three of a kind, the cards are of the same rank (three 4s, etc.), along with any two other cards.
8. Next is the combination of two pairs of cards and one other card. The highest pair would decide the value of the hands if two players had two pairs each.
9. The next combination is one pair.
10. Last is a hand valued by the highest card in a hand without at least a pair. (In Pai Gow and Pai Gow poker, two card hands are ranked according to the highest pair [the best hand is two aces] or the highest card if there is no pair).

Draw and Stud Poker

Two styles of poker games are draw poker and stud poker. In draw poker, the several players are each dealt (in turn) five cards. They may then request up to three new cards (more in some games) and throw away up to three cards. In the other form, stud poker, there is no draw. The player must utilize the cards that are dealt the first time. Stud poker games may involve more than five cards. In seven-card stud, the player is asked to make the best five-card hand possible from the seven cards.
The sequence of betting is tied to the rules of particular games.  For two examples, consider five-card draw and a seven-card stud game called hold ’em, a game popular in Las Vegas. In a five-card draw game, all players at a table make an initial bet (called an ante). Then five cards are dealt to each player, all face down only, for the one player to see. Usually there must be at least one player with a minimum hand (for instance, a pair of jacks or better) in order to start the next round of betting. Such a player may open with another bet, and other players decide to either stay in the game and match the bet or drop out. Other players also may raise the bet, requiring all others to meet the raise or drop out. (Rules of the particular game put limits on the amount of bets and raises. If there are no limits, a person is entitled to stay in a game by placing all his money into the game pot. His winnings are confined to moneys equal to his bet from each other player. If he loses he is out of the game.) The players then throw away cards they do not want and draw new replacement cards. They then engage in another round of bets and raises according to rules (some games limit the number of raises to three). The final player to call or raise then must show his cards; others may drop out without showing cards. Of course the player who wins must show his cards. All cards are secret until the final play is made.
In variations of stud poker, cards are dealt face up as well as face down, so that all players can know partial values of their opponents’ hands. In seven-card hold ’em, there is an ante bet, and then initially two cards are dealt face down to each player. There is then another round of betting that is followed by a dealing of an additional three face-up cards that are placed in the center of the table. These are common cards. Each player now can make a five-card hand. Then another round of betting ensues in which players match each others’ bets or drop out. A fourth common card (one that may be used by any or all players in their hands) is dealt for all to see, and there is a final round of betting. Finally, the fifth common card is placed upon the table, and each remaining player puts forth his best five-card hand using his own two cards and three of the five cards from the common pool of cards on the table.
Each of these poker games involves many calculations of which cards are likely to be dealt from the remainder of the single deck that is used for the games, as do the many variations, including low ball, in which bettors seek to have the lowest hand at the table. There are also great psychological skills used to seek how to discover signs that will reveal what an opponent may be holding. The main questions asked about the heavy bettor in a game are, “Is he bluffing?” “Does he really have a good hand, or is he just trying to scare others out of the game?” If all others drop out, he can win without having to show his hand. As suggested by Kenny Rogers’s famous gambling song, each hand can win, and each hand can lose, depending upon how it is played and on how the player is able to “read” other players. Even a royal flush can be misplayed in such a way that the one holding it can really be a “loser”. If the player cannot conceal his joy at such a good hand, the other players will drop out, and all he will win is their ante. If played properly, the hand can be used to draw out big bets from the other players. Players seek to find characteristics called “tells” that will reveal an opponent’s holdings.
The live-card poker game among players is extremely exciting. The game is one that, more than any other, attracts professional players. Some of them actually make a living with their skills, although there are not many examples of biographies revealing players who kept their fortunes well into old age.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Other forms of poker games do not have the suspense and psychology of the live player-banked game, but they do involve the poker hand. In Caribbean stud poker (a house-banked game), the player puts his five-card stud hand against a dealer’s hand.
First the player makes an ante bet. Then the dealer gives him five cards and also takes five cards. Four of the dealer’s cards are down, and one is up for the player to see. The player looks at his cards and then either drops out or bets an amount double his ante. The dealer does not look at his cards until the players’ bets are finished. When he looks at them, he determines if he has a “qualifying hand.” The qualifying hand has at least an ace and king cards high or one pair. If the hand does not qualify, the dealer folds and pays the remaining players a win equal only to their ante bet. The second bet they made is simply returned.
If the dealer’s hand is qualified, however, the player either loses or wins an amount equal to the ante and the second bet.  He also is eligible to win a bonus depending upon the value of his hand. For instance, a straight gets a 4-to–1 bonus (on the second bet amount); a flush, 5-to–1; four of a kind, 20-to–1; and a royal flush, 100-to–1.
There is also another side bet that the player makes at the beginning. He may bet one dollar on the value of his hand, and he can win a special payoff if he stays in the betting, even if the dealer’s hand is not qualified. The casino will have a progressive jackpot for this bet. A flush will get $50, a full house $100, a straight flush 10 percent of the progressive jackpot, and a royal flush the full jackpot. The progressive meter displayed above the Caribbean stud tables attracts players with the notion that they can win six figures on a one-dollar bet. Experts who study the game find that this extra one-dollar bet favors the house until the progressive jackpot grows beyond $200,000, which is rather rare.

Let It Ride

The game of let it ride poker was introduced to Las Vegas casinos in 1993 and has gained some popularity with casinos in many jurisdictions. Like Caribbean stud, it is a five-card stud poker game that is house banked. In this game the player hopes to get a hand with a good value. There is no dealer’s hand. The player lays three equal bets on the table. Each player then receives three cards face down. At that time he may let his first bet stay on the table, or he may withdraw it. A fourth community card is dealt (to be used by all players), and he then can make another decision to withdraw his second bet, or “let it ride.” His third bet must stay. Then a final card, also a community card, is revealed. He now has his hand. The hand is paid off according to a schedule. If the player does not have at least a pair of tens, he loses. The one pair of tens gets the bettor’s wagers returned to him. Two pairs give him a 2-to–1 return; a flush, 8-to–1; a royal flush, 1,000-to–1. Like Caribbean stud, there is also an opportunity to make a one-dollar bonus bet that pays off $20,000 for a royal flush and less for other good hands. On this bonus bet payoff, the expected return to the player is less than 80 percent, whereas the basic game pays back over 96%.

Pai Gow Poker

Pai gow poker is a house-banked even-payout game. The player is given seven cards, as is the dealer. Each then makes his best two-card and best five-card hand. If both of the player’s hands are better than the dealer’s two hands, the player wins but pays a 5 percent commission on the winnings. If both of the dealer’s hands are better, the dealer wins; if one is and one is not, it is a tie. One fifty-two-card deck is used along with a joker, which may be used as an ace or as a card to complete a straight or a flush. The best possible hand is five aces.

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In a player-banked game, the money wagered by the players is either put against the funds of one other single player who acts as “the bank” (much as in a house-banked game), or it is put into a common pool of funds that is then distributed to the winner (or winners) when the game (hand) is over. Player-banked games include many variations of live poker games, special variations of blackjack such as California Aces, and pari-mutuel games in which wagers are placed on results of horse or dog races and jai alai games in the United States and Canada.
In poker games that are played socially – probably the most prevalent social game in North America – players usually make an ante bet, that is, a wager before any cards are dealt. The ante is thrown into the middle of the table area. Then either as successive cards are dealt or as individual players are asked to state what they are willing to risk if the game continues, extra money is thrown into the center area by all players wishing to remain in the game. When the betting is done (according to the rules of the game), the winner is determined, and all the money is given to the winner.
When such games are played in casinos or poker rooms (as in California), the house provides a neutral dealer who oversees and monitors the game to ensure that it is honest and that specific rules of the game and rules on betting procedures (antes, raises, limits) are followed.  For this service, the house charges either a per-hand price to each player in the game, a fee based upon the time the player is at the table (usually collected each half hour, as in California), or a percentage of the money that is played in the game (the practice in Las Vegas casinos).
The players in the player-banked game are seeking to win money from each other and not from the casino or the poker room organization. In traditional baccara, players rotate the bank, holding it as long as the “bank” position in the game is a winner, then when losing passing it on to an adjacent player. The bank therefore passes around the table as if it were a train moving on a track. The game is also known as chemin de fer, a French expression meaning railroad. In charitable bingo games, the organization running the game sells cards for play. After all cards are sold, the organization totals up the sales (money that comes from the players), takes out its share (usually 20% to 40%), and then announces the amount of money that will be given to the winner(s).
Several Native American tribal casinos use player-banked systems for games that are normally house banked. For instance, in both California and Texas, tribal casinos offer a standard blackjack game with extra opportunities for player wins. The casino still wins money from the actual game, however. This money is then placed into a pool, and players are given chances to win the pooled money by spinning a wheel or playing another chance game. In this way, 100% of the money played is returned to the players, so in a very real sense, their play is merely a redistribution of money among themselves. Another player-banked version of blackjack is called California Aces. Cards are dealt in a standard fashion, but there is no dealer hand. Also there is no busting (losing) for going over 21. Actually 22 is the best hand, and other hands are ranked according to how close to 22 they are, with lower numbers being superior to numbers over 22. (For example, the order of best to worst hands is 22, 21, 23, 20, 24, 19, 25, 18, and so on). All money played goes to the player with the best hand. The casino does not collect any money from the game; however, the players in all these games pays the casino a fee for each hand they play. (After Proposition 1A passed in California in 2000, the Native American casinos there made compacts that allow them to offer house-banked games).

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