The United States has always had something of a dual personality when it comes to gambling.

Much of the personality of the nation, from its proud individualism and frontier mythology, supports gambling — including elements as integral to the American portrait as Mississippi riverboats, Wild West saloons, community church bingo, and the world wonder that is Las Vegas itself.

Yet anti-gambling tendencies have also played a major role throughout the history, even the pre-history, of the US. Puritan forefathers and similarly inclined religious exiles established a fundamental repression of sin — of which gambling was an oft-cited example.

In times of peace and plenty, this recurring debate takes a slow and subtle presence on the national stage. However, in difficult economic times, US states are forced to confront the question. Gambling revenue is simply such an obvious option, and the arguments against it tend to lose significant weight when faced with the prospect of losing funding for essential services like fire, police, roads, and schools.

New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie is taking center stage with his plans restore Atlantic City (another American landmark) to its past glory, and balance Jersey’s finances in the process.

However, this same debate is occurring in all of the other states…well, nearly all. Nobody would expect gambling supporters in Utah, for example, to make much headway. However, even long-time hold-out Hawaii is seriously considering adopting expanded gambling regulations — a major evolution in the state’s policy and attitude.