Playing slots at June Lake

JUNE LAKE—Mono County is known for its Eastern Sierra trout fishing, and June Lake is a well-traveled destination for freshwater anglers. Once upon a time the June Lake region was also a place where you could play slot machines.

Gambling was allowed in California during the 1930s and 1940s. Gambling boats sat on the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles and Santa Monica during this time, for example.

A website managed by the June Lake Loop Historical Society said slot machines and draw poker were commonplace activities in this quite corner of Mono County.

California had delegated the decision of whether to allow gambling activities to specific counties. Mono County, according to the June Lake Loop Historical Society, agreed to allow slot machines and draw poker, so long as these gambling activities did not occur in the county seat of Bridgeport.

A group of businessmen decided to bring slots and poker to the June Lake area. They built up several casino outfits in the county, with as many as 150 slot machines.

Slot machines would soon become illegal, however, with legislators in Sacramento outlawing them by the 1950s (although today slot machines are allowed in California, but only on tribal properties).

The June Lake Loop Historical Society said some of these slot machines ended up at the bottom of June Lake, soon after the gambling contraptions were outlawed.

June Lake, itself, was discovered during the Gold Rush era. A power plant was established in the area in 1915, with a fishing camp established a little while later at nearby Silver Lake.

The region, in the 1920s, was a hot spot for auto tours. It was also a destination for Hollywood personalities in the 1930s.

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