The origin of casinos in America begins in the bayous of New Orleans. It was here where poker became the beginnings of the casino industry in America. Early versions of poker gained popularity in the Louisiana territory after traveling to the Big Easy with French settlers.
Poker helped New Orleans became the home of casino gambling more than a century before Bugsy Segal was fraudulently given credit as being the father of Las Vegas. The first casino in the United States opened here 1822. The establishment was owned by entrepreneur John Davis who kept the gaming establishment open twenty four hours a day. It wasn’t long before this single casino became two, and than four, and so on and so on. New Orleans was America’s first gambling city.
Casinos dotted New Orleans like Lilly pads in the marshland. As the casino industry grew people started playing cards professionally. Of course, like a dark ying to a positive yang, the professional card cheat grew alongside the professional card player. Gamblers and cheats alike would gather in a waterfront area referred to as “the swamp”. This was not a very safe place to be. If a cheat was caught, a death sentence was quickly administered. Even winning was dangerous. Players who were angry about their luck might be as likely to the shoot the winner as they were to pay up on their bets. In this section of town there was no law. The police kept far away and preferred to enforce the law in places that would give them free coffee instead of trouble.
In 1911 legislators decided they had enough of the violence that came with the gaming in New Orleans. Gambling was outlawed throughout the entire Louisiana Purchase territory in 1911.