hist-games: North America Historical Gaming

Michael McKay seaan at concentric.net
Fri Aug 27 22:54:28 PDT 1999

Greetings to all,

I had a number of people ask me for more details about the book on North
American (N.A.) gaming history (which I could not remember the name and
author of).  If you don't want personal information, skip to the next
paragraph.  The primary reasons for the "delay" is over.  My wife and I are
now the proud parents of baby boy, our first.  Mother and child are doing
well.  Since I had recently moved, I had to unpack my books before I could
find it (around 40 boxes of books).

The name of the book is "Gambler Way" by Kathryn Gabriel, 1996, Johnson
Books.  The author's website is "http://www.nmia.com/~kgabriel/".  I picked
it up on remainder for $5 USA, so check the bargain bins.  Amazon has it for

I have only read the first 1/3 thoroughly so far (before it got packed on
me).  So far it has been very impressive.  The book has extensive notes and
a 9 page bibliography.  Early chapters mention discoveries by N.A. game
historians (Stewart Cullin, the author of "Korean Games", is fairly
prominent).  Aside from the current day gambling information (see next
paragraph), the majority of the book (at least the first third) deals with
topics that will be of much interest to the hist-games list.  I can highly
recommend the book just for the parts I've read, and I look forward to
completing my read.

The book does have an "angle", although it is not so strong that I would
call it a "agenda".  One of the postulates is that N.A. Indian Gambling has
a long and detailed history.  For those from outside the USA, typically
gambling was illegal, or strictly controlled (for instance, California
allowed card houses with poker games, but no "21", slots, roulette, etc.).
Gambling was pretty much confined to specific parts of the country (the
state of Nevada for instance).  Over the last 20 years, this has changed
dramatically.  The N.A. Indians owned lands (reservations), which by treaty
were exempt from state gambling laws (over simplification).  This lead to a
number of Indian gambling casinos, which has caused a fair amount of
controversy.  This book's angle is that N.A. Indians have always gambled,
and that the casinos are a compatible extension of their society (as opposed
to just being a method to bring in money).

Michael McKay  (known in the SCA as Seaan McAy)
seaan at concentric.net

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