By the time the Great Depression reared its head in the United States, Nevada was already in financially dire straits. The precious metal mines that had drawn settlers to the uninviting desert state were running dry, and there were few other opportunities available to make life livable.
Today in 1931, the Nevada State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 98, which forever settled a longstanding controversy over legalized gambling, in favor of gamblers. The Bill was introduced by Phil Tobin, a freshman Assemblyman, and then made law by Fred Balzar, Governor of Nevada, on March 19.
The Bill made most gambling games legal. Gambling moved from secret back rooms into the light of day, and changed Nevada’s fate. It would take a while before Nevada became the gambling mecca that it is today, though.
Even with legalized gambling, there was not much interest in developing Nevada. The post-War period also saw a shortening of the leash when it came to gambling regulation. Enter organized crime, who turned Las Vegas into a gambling metropolis.
Legitimate investment and development, including Howard Hughes, eventually domesticated (relatively) Vegas. It is now one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Gambling is still big business there, but the city is now known as much for its party scene as for its games.