Gambling Laws in Minnesota and Missouri

Minnesota was the next territory to be formed from the land bought in the Louisiana Purchase. It was established in 1849, and the Organic Act of Minnesota immediately became law.

This act provided that the laws in force in the Territory of Wisconsin at the date of Wisconsin's admission as a state were to become valid and operative in Minnesota until altered, modified, or repealed by the legislature.

Minnesota did not pass its own gambling provision until 1851. Its anti-gambling statute forbade keeping, using or betting on gaming tables and rendered all gambling contracts void.

Minnesota also introduced nuisance concepts into its gambling law, but, unlike Iowa, required search warrants to be issued before an alleged gambling device could be seized.

In the same year, the state granted municipalities the independent power to suppress gambling.

After the territories enacted these first provisions, the legislatures remained silent on the subject of gambling for 20 years. The courts also refrained from active involvement in the development of the law gambling at this time.

The only noteworthy decision was an Iowa case that held that horse racing was not a game of chance as defined by the statutory prohibitions on gambling, and, thus, not forbidden by law.

Lotteries, the only significant gambling activity west of the Mississippi, were played in Missouri.

In fact, Missouri was an important exception to the Midwest's relative lack of lottery activity, perhaps having been influenced somewhat by the constant lottery activity of its downriver neighbor, Louisiana.

In 1842, the legislature attempted to eliminate all lottery activity in Missouri by repealing lottery authorization enactments. A Missouri court, however, found the new statute unconstitutional.

The court affirmed the lower court's ruling that the statute violated a federal constitutional ban on laws impairing the obligation of prior contracts.

As a result of this court decision, lotteries that were previously authorized to flourish in Missouri.

The most notable of these was the New Franklin Road Lottery, which had been franchised in 1833 to raise $15,000 to build a road from New Franklin to the Missouri River.

The lottery continued to flourish into the 1870s long after New Franklin had been abandoned and the road had collapsed into the river.

Finally, in 1880 the Missouri court declared that the franchise of the New Franklin Lottery had finally expired. The state could then constitutionally enforce its lottery ban.

Although the enforcement of gambling law in the Midwest was never efficient, prosecutions were numerous enough to allow courts to clarify the artfully worded statutes.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Missouri legislature periodically authorized lotteries.

In 1835, however, it began to show its disapproval of them by prohibiting all those not authorized by the state.

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