The Western and Eastern Frontiers on Gambling
The risk-taking inherent in the lotteries and the gaming so common in Jamestown, paralleled the chance undertaken in the larger enterprise— in a broader perspective.
This paralleled the chance undertaken in the larger enterprise of the movement across the Atlantic and into a new continent.
Setting precedents for Europeans and Americans who followed, the early colonists in Virginia were among the very first to take the gamble that came to be known as the westward migration of English-speaking people in North America.
The lottery, accompanying pioneers to the initial American frontier, symbolized the gambling spirit that has characterized the American West.
Whether seventeenth-century colonizers for the Virginia company vacationers in Las Vegas casinos, westering people have been adventurers.
The English colonies comprised the first in a series of American Wests where the affinity between gambling and the frontier stood out boldly. The experience of migration has continually likened the pioneer to the bettor.
On the frontier as well as at gaming tables, Westerners found opportunities to get something for nothing, and held high expectations about prospects for success.
In both cases, win or lose, the direct exposure to chance and change tested people’s character and made the risk taking worthwhile for its own sake.
Native-born gambling was cultivated not simply on the frontier, moreover, but in a series of West that shaped the new styles differently.
Each indigenous betting practice evolved during a specific time as well as in a distinct setting, and consequently reflected the dynamic culture of the frontier on which it appeared.
Emerging forms of gambling provided a measure of the changing character of successive western societies and an index to the relationship between the East and West.
Styles of gambling that developed on the British imperial frontier in North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries illuminated the divergence of colonial culture from the mainstream of English civilization.
The difference had been foreshadowed by participants in the early colonization of Virginia. On one shore of the Atlantic, adventurers strove to gain a foothold of the new continent; on the other side, gentlemen speculated in order to enhance their genteel status.
In England, thoroughbred racing suited noble tastes, while in the American backcountry quarter-horse racing developed to meet the needs of the common man on the frontier.
In the mother country, large-scale lotteries financed national government while in the colonies’ local lotteries helped to build a new society. This dichotomy between East and West contributed to the emergence of a distinctive style of gaming that persisted in America over the next two hundred years.