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The federal government has had a curious relationship with gambling. For much of its history, the national public policy towards gambling was simple: prohibition, despite the audacity of a few laggard states in experimenting with legalization schemes. Towards the end of the twentieth century, however, the national policy shifted, at first to tolerance of legal gambling to endorsement of it. The five primary federal studies of gambling conducted in the twentieth century—the Kefauver Committee (1950–2), the President’s Crime Commission (1967), the Commission to Review the National Policy on Gambling (1974–6), the President’s Commission on Organized Crime (1984–6), and the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (1997–9)—illustrate the shifting federal perception of and approach to legalized gambling. Of these four studies, the Kefauver has received the most thorough scholarly inquiry, while the President’s Commission has been largely overlooked. But the President’s Commission represented an important moment in the national discourse on legal gambling. As the first national look at casino gambling as it made the transition from a Nevada novelty to a widespread tool of economic development and revenue enhancement, it paved the way for the National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s (NGISC) even-handed treatment of gambling at the end of the next decade, even as it represented the final bulwark of the receding prohibitionist approach to gambling legalization.


Casinos; Casinos--Economic aspects; Casinos--Law and legislation; Federal government; Gambing; Gambling--Economic aspects; Gambling--Law and legislation; Prohibitionl; Public policy (Law)


Economics | Gaming Law | Growth and Development | Library and Information Science


This is a copy of an article published in the Gaming Law Review and Economics ©2013 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Gaming Law Review and Economics is available online at:

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