Dealing From the Bottom of the Deck provides the full history of American gambling. There are certainly flaws with modern legalized gambling. However, the situation was far worse when this activity was entirely illegal and unregulated.
This book takes you back to the days of the western frontier when disputes were often settled by gunfire and naïve gamblers were routinely bamboozled. Likewise, gang wars often determined who controlled these underground markets in urban areas. In turn, organized crime used the profits to fuel cycles of political corruption. The examples provided are not only insightful, but they also add to a genuinely entertaining reading experience.
The second volume of the Rackets series covers the birth of the mafia-dominated casino industry. Government officials made numerous blundering mistakes that allowed mobsters to control this industry for decades. Fortunately, appropriate regulations were eventually put in place to remove the criminals from the industry. Now, legalized gambling benefits the taxpayers, not the mafia. However, the legal gambling business is still dominated by “racketeers,” i.e. crony capitalists.
Typically, the most powerful casinos exploit our political system by opposing new forms of legal gambling to suppress competition. Nearly every state has at least one form of legal gambling, but there are multi-billion dollar black markets that still exist. The most notable examples are sports betting and online poker.
You will also discover the remarkable parallels between Wall Street and the gambling industry. The same public officials who pioneered various anti-gambling laws also helped create the circumstances leading to the near-bankruptcies of the “Too Big to Fail” banks. This has much to do with the tainted revolving door between government and the private sector.
Dealing From the Bottom of the Deck makes it clear that gambling needs to be further legalized and regulated. More important, it reveals how stigmatized vices, such as gambling, serve as a distraction that enables vast government corruption.