Miami’s Gambling Roots

The city of Miami is located in the South East of Florida. It is a major player in the industries of finance, culture and entertainment and is also a hugely popular choice with tourists. Tourists from outside of the US usually head straight for Orange Country and the world famous Disney World, but outside of this resort Miami is the most popular destination in the state and one of the most popular destinations in the world. When it comes to golden beaches, tropical weather and pulsating nightlife, Miami is the place to be.

Miami is also a great place to gamble and has been for a number of years. Commercial gambling is not legal here, but race books and race tracks are (greyhound racing is very big in Miami and Florida on the whole). There are Indian casinos and a huge number of casino cruises where you can set sail towards the Atlantic ocean and enjoy the sights, sounds and thrills of the sea and the casino in one place.

Today Miami is home to nearly half a million residents, not including the millions of tourists that flock to these golden shores every year, but at the turn of the nineteenth century just over 1500 people lived here. During the 1920s the population exploded when gambling became rife and people discovered that the authorities were very slack when it came to adhering to the laws of prohibition. As a result the city expanded and a construction boom helped to further raise the population, all of which came to Miami to drink, gamble and have fun.

By the 1930s organized crime had established a large presence in the area and even Al Capone had a hand in the Miami gambling trade. It became a hotbed of gangland violence and was even referred to as Little Chicago due to the levels of murders, violence and corruption.

Although poker, blackjack and racing were present, Bolita, which was imported from Cuba, was one of the biggest games at this time. Bolita is basically a lottery that consists of 100 small numbered balls which are drawn from a bag. It was so big and so popular that it formed a huge part of the Miami economy, not to mention all of the money that it was stuffing into the pockets of very powerful gangsters.

These days gambling in Miami is legalized and widely available. Lotteries are still very popular here and lottery tickets can be bought all over. Horse racing is also popular in Miami and was legalized back in 1931, during the height of the lottery and casino rackets in the city. Slot machines, which can be played in Indian casinos and on casino cruises, have been legalized since 1935. Bingo, which was the most popular form of gambling in much of the United States for many decades, was illegal in Florida for many years, even after the success of Bolita and the legalization of horse racing and slot machines, but that changed in the 1970s. Initially the jackpots were restricted to just $100, but the Seminole casino ignored this restriction and offered huge jackpots, and as a result the restrictions were lifted.

Although very popular and one of its main tourist attractions and sources of income, the Miami gambling industry has faced a lot of opposition over the years, with people insisting that gambling is immoral and responsible for everything from suicides to malnutrition. It has also faced some strong opposition from religious groups and conservatives, but it has remained standing throughout. The fact that it provides a huge portion of the tax income in the city and the state, along with all of the tourist dollars that it brings into the country, is clearly a defining reason that gambling continues to be legal and widely available in Miami.

Proof, as if it was needed, of the power of gambling in Miami lies in the history of the Seminole Indian tribe who own 7 of the 8 Indian casinos in the state. For many years they were poor and struggling, surviving on government handouts and facing cultural extinction, but they are now one of the richest gambling organizations in the United States, earning over $2 billion a year, and it seems their culture, their traditions and their people will go on living for many more generations to come thanks to the revenues from their gambling enterprises.

Greyhound racing, poker and other games are also highly profitable and highly taxable. Simply put, the tourists, the locals, the businesses and the government are happy, so even though there are a few dissenters that will probably never silence their passionate disagreement, gambling is sure to thrive in Miami for many years to come.