What gambling games were popular in the 1800s?
The 19th Century was an interesting time for gambling in the United States. Gambling became a part of the frontier lifestyle during the early 1800s, though many opposed it and saw it as immoral and bad for society. Lotteries were prohibited in most states by the 1840s, which lead to the creation of illegal lotteries. The expansion of the western frontier spurred a second wave of gambling in the United States. The Gold Rush set off the gambling boom as miners naturally valued risk-taking and an opportunity for wealth. Again, gambling was tied to social ills and professional gamblers were targeted in California, driving gambling games underground. Lotteries returned in the South as a way to make profit after the Civil War, but scandals and antigaming sentiment led to additional legislation against them. By 1910, virtually all forms of gambling were prohibited in the U.S. Today, most states allow charitable gambling and lotteries. Ohio passed Issue 3 in 2009 legalizing casinos, which brought the Miami Valley Gaming Racino to Warren County in 2013. Many states still prohibit Commercial, Tribal, and Racetrack casinos.
Despite regulations against gambling, many Warren County citizens still participated in the act. At the Records Center and Archives, we find evidence of citizens getting in legal trouble for gambling often in our Clerk of Court State Records. The games they were caught betting on vary, some of which are more common today than others. Below are some of the gambling games and records Archival Intern Tori Roberts found while processing.
Hustlecap/Hustle-cap—a game of pitch and toss in which coins are shaken in a cap.
Hustle cap, Joseph Mounts, et al, State Record B, Box 7, Folder 1
Shuffleboard—a game played by pushing disks with a long-handled cue over a marked surface.
Raffle—a gambling competition in which people obtain numbered tickets, each ticket having the chance of winning a prize.
Loo—or lanterloo, is a 17th-century trick taking game of the Trump family of which many varieties are recorded. It belongs to a line of card games whose members include Nap, Euchre, and Spoil Five. It is considered a modification of the game of “All Fours”, in which players replenish their hands after each round by drawing a new card from the pack.
Loo, David Ulery/Ullery, State Record C, Box 12, Folder 5
Dice—games that use or incorporate one or more dice as their sole or central component, usually as a random device.
Chequers (UK) or Checkers—a group of strategy board games for two players which involve diagonal moves of uniform game pieces and mandatory captures by jumping over opponent pieces.
Roulette—a game of chance named after the French word meaning little wheel where players place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, the colors red or black, or whether the number is odd or even.
Nine Pins—a British game similar to bowling, using nine wooden pins and played in an alley.
Nine pins, Charles H. Abbey, State Record 4, Box 15, Folder 5
Poker—a family of gambling card games that involve betting and individual play, whereby the winner is determined by the ranks and combinations of players’ cards, some of which remain hidden until the end of the game.
Three up—a low gambling game played by tossing up three coins.
Seven Up—a short trick-taking game played by two players. The goal of the game is to accumulate points based on taking certain tricks in the game. Each hand is only played with six cards and the point total that a player has to reach is seven points.
Seven up (cards), Thomas Hopkins, State Record 4, Box 13, Folder 2
Chucker-luck—also known as Bird Cage, Chuck Luck, ChuckaLuck, Chuck, this is a banking game related to Grand Hazard. The operator usually rolls the dice in a special chuck cage (an hour glass shaped wire cage that rotates) and provides a layout with the numbers 1 to 6 on it for players to place their bets.
Trivia Question: What game above was determined by trial to be a game of skill, not a game of chance in 1848? The answer will be revealed next post!
Answer to July 27th question: The Northwest Territory, Virginia Military Lands, and the Symmes’ Patent.