The repeal of Prohibition abruptly ended organized crime’s smuggling and speakeasy operations – but it didn’t end its ambitions. As with astute entrepreneurs, mobsters adapted. Emboldened by a decade of fat profits, and with a well-organized network to settle internal rivalries, the Mob explored gambling and other opportunities from Hollywood to Havana and all points in between. Even without bootlegging income, organized crime anticipated a lucrative future.
In 1919, gamblers, allegedly including New York mobster Arnold Rothstein, conspired with eight Chicago White Sox players to throw the World Series.
The race wire played an important role in the evolution of horse racing and betting. Bookies could keep track of races and illegally place bets through the wire.
During World War II, Moe Dalitz served in the Army, rising to the rank of second lieutenant. He went on to become “Mr. Las Vegas,” and a key player in the Mob.
With the repeal of Prohibition, the Mafia had to branch out and find new rackets.
Mobsters smuggled drugs inside tomato sauce cans from Sicily and distributed them in the United States.
Many cities had crime families that all took a seat at the table of the national syndicate.
Moe Dalitz, who invested in and ran the Desert Inn on behalf of the Cleveland syndicate, had many pieces of bling, including this diamond-studded golf marker.
Sporting events and gambling have provided many opportunities for gangs to make money over the years through illegal gambling, as well as bribing players to manipulate outcomes.
Blood oath: Take the blood oath and be indoctrinated into organized crime in a tradition that goes back to the Mafia’s Italian roots.
Hollywood attracted many mobsters, including Bugsy Siegel. Seen here are his sunglasses.