This book provides a sweeping overview of sports and race betting in the United States, from the first thoroughbred meet at Saratoga in 1863 through the modern day. It is also the first comprehensive exploration of the evolution of bookmaking, including the legal developments and technological advancements that have taken place over the years.
Horse racing in America dates back to the colonial era when street races were a common occurrence. The commercialization of horse racing produced a sport that would briefly surpass all others in popularity, with annual races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes growing to rank among America’s most celebrated sporting events. From the very onset, horse racing and gambling were intertwined. As the popularity of racing and betting grew, so, too, did the controversies and corruption. Yet, despite the best efforts of social reformers, bookmakers stubbornly plied their trade, adapting and evolving as horse racing gave way to team sports as the backbone of their business.
In Sports Betting and Bookmaking: An American History, Arne K. Lang provides a sweeping overview of legal and illegal sports and race betting in the United States, from the first thoroughbred meet at Saratoga in 1863 through the modern day. The cultural war between bookmakers and their adversaries is a recurring theme, as bookmakers were often forced into the shadows during times of social reform, only to bloom anew when the time was ripe. While much of bookmaking’s history takes place in New York, other locales such as Chicago, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City—not to mention Cyberspace—are also discussed in this volume.
A comprehensive exploration of the evolution of bookmaking—including the legal developments and technological advancements that have taken place over the years—Sports Betting and Bookmaking is a fascinating read. This informative and engaging book will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about America’s long history with gambling on horse racing and team sports.
Chapter 1: Leonard Jerome: The Towering Pillar of the Horsey Set
Chapter 2: Saratoga and Jerome Park: The Fountainheads
Chapter 3: Pool Sellers, Bookmakers, and Pari-Mutuels
Chapter 4: Off-Track Betting: The Poolroom Scene
Chapter 5: New York’s Racetrack-Building Boom
Chapter 6: Bookmakers and Their Modus Operandi
Chapter 7: Tipsters and Touts
Chapter 8: Big Plungers and Outlaws
Chapter 9: The Reformers Crank Up the Heat
Chapter 10: Racetracks in the Crosshairs
Chapter 11: New York Racing: Feast and Famine
Chapter 12: The Good-Bye Years
Chapter 13: Reanimation
Chapter 14: A Verdant Depression
Chapter 15: A Side Trip to the Windy City
Chapter 16: Mid-Century Reformers: La Guardia, Kefauver, and Kennedy
Chapter 17: The Tax Man Cometh
Chapter 18: Multiple-Horse Wagering Takes Flight
Chapter 19: Pro Football Corrodes the Racing Game
Chapter 20: New York Welcomes OTB
Chapter 21: A Side Trip to Old Nevada
Chapter 22: Simulcasting
Chapter 23: Lotteries, Casinos, and Racinos
Chapter 24: Offshore and Online
Chapter 25: Whales
Chapter 26: Pushing the Envelope
About the Author