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The Maundy Monday Newsletter - This Week in History May 22 - 28.
Happy Monday, everyone. Thank you for beginning your week by reading Okay History.
I’m not much of a gambler. Mostly because I’m well aware that I have an addictive personality, and the minute I begin down the road of gambling is the minute when Anonymous is filing D-I-V-O-R-C-E papers.
One good thing that is steering me away from becoming a degenerate gambler is that I am constantly broke. I once went to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and took out $40 to gamble with. It was a great way to begin the trip, with all of my buddies making fun of the fact that I took out as much money to last me about five minutes of fun.
Gambling has been ingrained into American history since our founding. We must bet on something, be it roulette, lotteries, cock-fighting, or horse racing; we always find a way to try and make an easy dollar.
Gambling has always been illegal, a moral decision based partially, I’m sure, on our Puritan founding. But when something is illegal, it becomes extremely popular. Around the turn of the 20th century, the numbers racket really took off, with organized crime in cities throughout the country being in charge and getting stronger because of it.
To fight the depression, Nevada legalized gambling to generate revenue, and it worked. Nevada was the only place in the United States for a few decades where you could step into a casino and gamble.
Until a small New Jersey city along the Atlantic Ocean got into the gambling game. Thanks to voters legalizing gambling in 1976, Atlantic City would become the first city to have a legal casino outside of Nevada when the Resorts Hotel and Casino opened on May 26, 1978.
Resorts International began as a paint company based in New Jersey but saw business decline. It turned itself into a hotel and casino business because why not take that gamble? Atlantic City was a popular family destination during the summer, with its famous boardwalk and beaches. Still, by the 70s, the highway system's expansion and airline travel's affordability had cut into the tourism industry.
Gambling brought AC back to life.
However, gambling eventually would become legal in more cities up and down the east coast, and Atlantic City would see crime and poverty increase as casinos closed. Today legal gambling is a $54 Billion industry, aided by my $40 that I dump into the penny slots from time to time.
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Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
1. United Press International was formed on May 24, 1958. The American international news agency began as United Press Associations when it was founded in 1907. However, it became the larger organization known today as UPI after it merged with the International News Service. It is a competitor of the Associated Press, but it never invested at the same level as the AP and now everyone completely forgets UPI exists.
2. Robert Gould Shaw took command of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment on May 28, 1863. Shaw would lead the All-African American troops into several Civil War battles as I wrote about the movie Glory and how it sparked a conversation that ultimately had me traveling to Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed when trying to take Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina.
3. President George W. Bush signed the $350 Billion Tax Cut Law on May 28, 2003. The unpopular president signed a $1 Trillion debt ceiling increase the day before. This was the third tax cut for the future portrait painter in as many years.
President Donald Trump owned Resorts for about two years and managed not to drive it into the ground. As part of the deal, he acquired a few helicopters, which he used to fly customers in New York City down to AC. He said the helicopters were the same quality as the ones the president of the United States flies in. I still can’t believe this dude was our chief executive.
Trump used this experience to enter the airline industry when he bought 17 planes and operated Trump Shuttle from Boston to New York to Washington, DC. It lasted about four years before Trump eventually sold the company to US Airways, which then merged with American Airlines, which will eventually merge with Amazon Airlines when Amazon controls everything.
Thanks for understanding.
I hope you have a great week!