1612: A lottery is organized in London to support Virginia Colony in North America. Four drawings are held between 1612 and 1615. Ticket purchasers are told they are honoring both “God and Country.”
1620: Twenty mares are shipped from England to Virginia Colony, and horse racing with private wagering becomes a regular activity for the settlers. A specific author¬ization of racing is given in 1630.
1621: The first restrictions on gambling are established in Plymouth Colony. Opposi¬tion to forms of card playing and gambling are also instituted in early Massachu¬setts Bay Colony. The ambiguities toward gambling are in evidence among the earliest European communities in North America.
1638: A casino is opened in Venice. It is the first government-authorized gaming house in Europe.
Cardano publishes his theory of probability.
1665: A permanent oval horse racing course is laid out on the Hempstead Plain on Long Island, New York Colony. This marks the commercial beginnings of the rac¬ing industry in North America. Racing before this time consisted of match races over long, straight courses, with betting between individuals only.
1674: Charles II of England rides a horse to a first-place finish in one of the earliest stakes races held at Newmarket.
1682: The Quaker government of Pennsylvania Colony passes antigambling legisla¬tion. The futility of prohibition is witnessed here and elsewhere as gambling con¬tinues.
1728: The Godolphin Arabian, the last of three Arabian horses, is shipped to England from the Middle East. From these three horses—the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerley Turk—a stock of racing horses is developed. Today almost every thoroughbred race horse can trace its lineage to one of the three horses.
1765: The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act, which provides for the taxation of playing cards. The act is one of the first of the Obnoxious Acts precipitating the eventual rebellion in North America. That the British target playing cards as a potential source of tax revenues is an indication of how much Americans love card games. Many of the card decks found in the colonies at the time were manufactured by the colonies’ leading printer, Benjamin Franklin, who was also a frequent lottery player.
1776: Thomas Jefferson gambles as he composes the Declaration of Independence. John Rosecrance’s Gambling without Guilt (Rosecrance 1988, 18) cites Jefferson’s diary from June l776, which details his wins and losses at backgammon and lotto during the critical days preceding the Declaration.
l777: The Continental Congress initiates a lottery game. Four games are held to raise funds for the revolutionary armies of George Washington. Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island legislative bodies follow suit with lotteries for the armies.
1780s–1830s: Lotteries become an economic tool for financing civic projects in the new states. They help build the new capital city on the Potomac as well as buildings for many colleges, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Rutgers, and Dartmouth, and even some churches. From l790 to l830, 21 state governments issue licenses for nearly 200 games.

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