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tv   History of Gambling  CSPAN  April 12, 2021 7:47pm-8:01pm EDT

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c span's new online store. go there today to order a copy of the congressional directory a compact, spiral bound book with contact information for every member of congress, including bios and committee assignments. also contact information for state governors and the biden administration cabinet. order your copy at c-spanshop.org. every purchase helps support c-span's nonprofit operation. well, the history of gaming in nevada, you could say, in a sense, begins primarily in reno. the northern part of the state was predominant up in the 1950s. you have to remember that las vegas wasn't incorporated until 1905, so actually, there was very little gaming in the southern part of the state initially. and the gaming in the northern part of the state continued to develop primarily along a lot of the cities or towns that were
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along the railroad lines in the state. or in mining camps as they developed, such as virginia city or manhattan, various towns in the state of nevada. and the gaming continued to operate in nevada until 1910 when there was a strong social movement that actually won a referendum in the state and they made gaming illegal in october of 1910. and at that point, most of the gamblers in the city of reno got on the train and left for san francisco. in 1919, the attorney general said that poker was legal by the statutes and by 1923, they were actually licensing slot machines, and finally, in 1931, i believe it was march 23rd of 1931, they legalized all forms of gaming. the only -- i believe the only form of gaming that's not
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permitted in the state of nevada by the constitution is actually a state lottery. well, the gaming collection here consists of records of gaming not only in the state of nevada but throughout the united states. and the way that occurred is i was fortunate enough at the -- between about 1995 and 2005 to acquire the records of some of the major gaming manufacturing companies. many of them were in chicago. one of them was also out of l.a. and we put those records together along with artifacts that they had, and they reflected the -- they reflected gaming throughout not only nevada but throughout the united states and the caribbean. and we have the largest collection of original gaming records, to my knowledge, in the united states. possibly in the world. you have to remember that when gaming started, it was kind of a
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contest between the person operating the game and the various players, and if you couldn't control a game in the early days of gambling and, say, from the 1850s on and things like catalog
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of them and one of the more famous catalogs was the kansas city blue book, and this display that we have here has portions or information relative to that, the blue book. these are original illustration drawings that were used for the catalogs. we have some samples of the
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various types of dice and paraphernalia that they offered. if you come over to this next case here, we have some information that pertains to how these products were made. we have a page out of a kansas city blue book, and it shows that a lot of the card marking was done by women because they had the ability to hold a very small brush, put very small marks on cards. and one of the ways that they had consistently marked cards was they created what they call a mastercard, which showed all the marks in a contrasting color that they would use when they marked a deck of cards. and we have a fan deck here that shows where the marks on the card. we also have edgework here. if the card on the left, if you notice, has a pointed edge, which indicates that's an ace.
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and the card next to it has a slight bump on the design by the upper left-hand corner and that indicates it's a king. so, if you actually go down all these cards and look at the marks, you have ace, king, queen, jack, ten. we have a card cutter here, which was a traditional device for marking cards, shortening a side of a card. and we also have a corner rounder because once you trim a card, the round edge of the card is destroyed, so you have to put a round corner back on the card. we have a number of different things, including one of the last 1961 blue books from the kansas city card company. the issue of cheating in gaming was largely resolved beginning in the 1940s when the state of nevada became much more active in the control of gambling. and one of the issues that they had is they had to clean up
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gaming. i think there was a tremendous concern by the state of nevada, the federal authorities at some point might come in and if they found cheating in gaming, they would institute federal legislation, so the state took it upon themselves to develop rules for gaming that would prevent cheating, and today, when you really think about it, a gaming house, a casino operation, that has put millions of dollars invested into a hotel and a casino is not going to go out and cheat and risk their license. they still have problems today with regard to customers cheating and forms of that, but the state of nevada's gaming control board officers are constantly trying to police gaming to make certain that there's no cheating involved. in the case down here, we have one of the first control board officers' badge. and that's sitting next to a
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small display with regard to the black book. now, the nevada black book is a listing of what they call undesirable individuals who are not allowed access to a casino. you can lose your license if one of these individuals is found in your casino. and this particular display shows marshall, one of the original black book entries, and sam. and so, by stating -- setting the rules for a gaming institution, it allows the state to control it. they ask questions like, where's your backing coming from? who's supporting you? and initially, it was very hard for casinos to develop in the 1950s because regular banks were very reluctant to loan them money for development, and so the gaming industry went to various things such as the teamsters pension fund and obtained funding for a lot of
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the casinos. but in 1967, howard hughes came into the state of nevada, and one of the effects of hughes in the state of nevada was that it legitimized gaming operations, and by 1974, harrah's had actually gone public on the stock exchange and that heralded the new era of gaming and throughout nevada and eventually, of course, throughout the united states. what we have here are things from our educational collection, which allows people to look at things, physically hold them, handle them like this. the purpose of the aga is to gather, protect, and present the history of gaming, and so this allows us to give demonstrations of various types of -- in this instance, things that are considered to be special work or cheating devices. and if you see, i take a magnet here, you have a dice cube.
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it's actually a mag dice, what they call magnetic dice. you can -- sometimes it works in an opposite direction. now, this is a magnetized roulette ball. it will stick to the magnet. this is an unprocessed dice cube out of the '20s. and this cube here is very interesting because it's what is called a tap die. this one has not been spotted yet, but you can see there's a mechanical device in the cube itself and by tapping the dice solidly against a table, it will shift the center part to one side of the cube, making it special. you can tap the opposite side and bring it back to fair. these records allow us to do research into various clubs and casinos that were operating throughout the united states. many of them as we had put it unlicensed, which is a polite way of saying they were illegal. and a lot of these companies at
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one time, 1949, were forced by the commission in the u.s. senate to reveal their records when they were investigating interstate racketeering, interstate gambling and things of that nature. also, the mcclellan committee of the united states senate. so the records represented where gaming was occurring, not only in the state of nevada but throughout the united states. weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight, the space shuttle's 40th anniversary. on april 12, 1981, space shuttle columbia lifted off with two crew members aboard. in celebration of this feat, we start with a 1979 nasa film, "where dreams come true." the film highlights the contributions of women and minorities to nasa and much of the work depicted in the film relates to the fledgling space shuttle program, then two years
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kwa from its first mission. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. c-spanshop.org is there tod of the congressional directory, a compact spiral-bound book with contact information for every member of congress, including bios and committee assignments. also contact information for state governors and the biden administration cabinet. order your copy at c-span shop.org. every c-span purchase helps c-span's nonprofit 0 of ration. operation. >> it's like wanting to be a police man when you grow up, or some days wanting to be a doctor when you grow up. you're told that's not an appropriate goal for a little girl.

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