Bugsy Siegel would be in heaven today.
That’s not to say the notorious mobster who was gunned down in 1947 and would go on to inspire a Warren Beatty film decades later would face better odds of eternal grace were he to ply his nefarious trades in the modern era. But consider that when Siegel built the first casino in Las Vegas just prior to his death, he did so on a largely barren patch of desert. Today, mass development of Sin City is a reality, and Siegel would have boundless options for gaming.
All the different types of gambling today go beyond casinos, well beyond in fact. Here are a few of the places that gambling is currently happening:
Casinos: Of course gambling still occurs in casinos. It just is about more than Las Vegas or Atlantic City or Monte Carlo in the modern era. Casinos in Minnesota exist today, as they do in Northern California and beyond, anywhere that Indian gaming is legal, really. A casino is no longer simply about circus glitz, tigers on display, and stifling desert heat. A casino can be a few slot machines or poker table, or it can be Vegas in South Dakota (which is happening more and more, since tribes and Vegas interests alike have recognized the potential for big business.)
Online: There’s another alternative to Vegas or the Indian gaming ground. Today, one’s living room can be the casino, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. Online gambling can be lucrative as well. A college roommate of this author used $20 he received as a gift to start an account on a poker site. He played prodigiously, strategically, sometimes betting under a woman’s name so that people would feel more tempted to raise the ante on him. In time, it worked to great effect– he made something like $10,000 in a short span, enough to buy a flashy motorcycle. This was the same guy who used to stay in on weekends to play Everquest on two computers at the same time. Finally, all that obsessiveness came to good use.
Horse track: Everyone who works at a horse track bets on the outcome of the races from concession stand ushers to newspaper reporters on hand to cover the action. Everyone. Why is this? In short, gambling at the horse track is fun. The bets often aren’t huge, maybe a few dollars on probably hopeless odds. Unless it’s a major track or race, say the Kentucky Derby, the names of the horses are about as familiar as what’s painted on the sloops at a Minnesota boat rental. Gambling at a horse race is simply about having fun, maybe killing $20 over the course of an afternoon on throwaway bets. It’s cheaper than going to the bars, and every once in awhile, those bets come up winners.
Office pool: As these words are being written, March Madness is being played somewhere, and somewhere, someone’s bracket is getting busted. Whoever comes out with the least damage can win some cash. Welcome to the most ubiquitous form of gambling in America.