Gangsters to governors : the new bosses of gambling in America

Author / Creator
Clary, David, 1974- author
Available as

"Generations ago, gambling in America was an illicit activity, dominated by gangsters like Benny Binion and Bugsy Siegel. Today, forty-eight out of fifty states permit some form of legal gambling, ...

"Generations ago, gambling in America was an illicit activity, dominated by gangsters like Benny Binion and Bugsy Siegel. Today, forty-eight out of fifty states permit some form of legal gambling, and America's governors sit at the head of the gaming table. But have states become addicted to the revenue gambling can bring? And does the potential of increased revenue lead them to place risky bets on new casinos, lotteries, and online games? In Gangsters to Governors, journalist David Clary investigates the pros and cons of the shift toward state-run gambling. Unearthing the sordid history of America's gaming underground, he demonstrates the problems with prohibiting gambling while revealing how today's governors, all competing for a piece of the action, promise their citizens payouts that are rarely delivered. Clary introduces us to a rogue's gallery of colorful characters, from John "Old Smoke" Morrissey, the Irish-born gangster who built Saratoga into a gambling haven in the nineteenth century, to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has furiously lobbied against online betting. By exploring the controversial histories of legal and illegal gambling in America, he offers a fresh perspective on current controversies, including bans on sports and online betting. Entertaining and thought-provoking, Gangsters to Governors considers the past, present, and future of our gambling nation"--Provided by publisher.

"As legalized gambling continues its march across America, governors are in the curious position of managing enterprises that had long been the dominion of gangsters. Their current embrace of gambling is a reversal of the traditional view that gambling needed to be suppressed for the good of society. However, banning gambling meant states received no revenue from a flourishing underground activity, corruption crippled local law enforcement, and, worst of all, crime syndicates asserted control of gambling. Betting poolrooms linked to racetracks, casinos (legal and illegal), and the numbers rackets all fell under the sway of gangsters. One form of gambling led to others being legalized. When states approved parimutuel wagering on horse races, it undercut arguments against establishing lotteries. Once governors got a taste of lottery revenue, it set off a stampede for more. State after state lifted bans on gambling and approved dockside casinos, riverboat casinos, big-city casinos, small-stakes casinos in old mining towns, and casino/resort complexes on tribal reservations. Today, every state except for Hawaii and Utah has some form of legal gambling. Governors are now the unquestioned masters of gambling, but their enthusiastic embrace of more casinos, slot machines, higher betting limits, and richer lotteries is tipping the business out of balance. When neighboring states ramp up their gambling portfolios, they saturate markets and cannibalize profits as in Atlantic City. Too often, governors exaggerate what expanded gambling can deliver to their states in terms of jobs and revenue when making the case to voters. Gangsters to Governors provides essential historical context for understanding the current debate over legalizing online gambling and sports betting"--Provided by publisher.

David Clary
  • New Brunswick : Rutgers University Press, [2017]
  • ©2017
Physical Details
  • 1 online resource
  • data file
9780813584553, 9780813584560, 9780813584546, 0813584566, 081358454X, 0813584558

  • Includes bibliographical references and index.

  • Title Page -- Copyright Page -- Dedication Page -- Contents -- Prologue: Bad Bet -- Part I: Dens of Thieves -- Chapter 1: The Sport of Kings -- Chapter 2: Golden Ticket -- Chapter 3: State of Play -- Chapter 4: Mob Scene -- Chapter 5: Enemy Within -- Chapter 6: Vegas, Incorporated -- Part II: All In -- Chapter 7: Siren Song -- Chapter 8: Betting on a Boom -- Chapter 9: Rise of the Tribes -- Chapter 10: A Tangled Web -- Chapter 11: Games without Frontiers -- Epilogue: Double or Nothing -- Acknowledgments -- Notes -- Bibliography -- Index
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