Jazz, Zydeco & Cajun music, Mardi Gras, and the best food in the world aren’t the only things that started in Louisiana. Would you believe America’s first Poker game and gambling casino were in New Orleans?
The Cresent City was known as the ‘Gambling City’ before the church was built! Historians said folks were gambling in billiard halls and cabarets before the St. Louis Church Cathedral was completed in 1727. Gambling was so bad people wouldn’t go to church. So, city officials had to pass an ordinance outlawing these ‘vices’ (gambling and other unholy activities) during service hours to get folks to attend mass.
Of course, they would go back to gambling when mass was over. To limit gambling, the Louisiana government prohibited gambling altogether. So, I guess they figured if we can’t beat em’ we’ll join em and make some of the money. In 1752, Louisiana Governor Louis Billouart de Kerlérec opened a government-run casino.
In the early 1800s, French settlers working on the Port of New Orleans dock played a card game involving betting and bluffing. It was very similar to how “draw poker” is played today. The game was called Poque (French) or Poch (English.) By this time, America’s first gambling city was playing the game and others for large pots of money on land and riverboats. Men from all walks of life from the rich plantation owners to farmers stopped at nothing to engage in the betting sport.
Seeing that gambling was a good way to make money, a man named John Davis, opened what’s considered the first American casino in New Orleans around 1822. Pretty much like those today, this place was open 24 hours a day with plenty of women to keep the fella’s company, roulette wheels, poker, and Fargo tables, sold food, and liquor.
Davis had the first, but soon casinos and gambling dens popped up everywhere. Anytime there is a gambling business, there are thieves looking to cheat the system the card “sharper.” Those were the guys that were super good with their hands and a deck of cards. So, there it is! Nice little history facts about the long history of gambling in the state of Louisiana. Below are more details about gambling in Louisiana.