Gambling and the Mafia: A Love Story
One could well think that the mafia invented gambling.
The affinity and involvement of mafia members with gambling is an intense one. We know that gambling goes far back in human history, but if you ask anyone to associate another word with gambling, it will probably be "Mafia."
The other word frequently associated with the mafia is crime and it is in this context that gambling is associated with crime. In many ways this is highly unfortunate, but in fact, society actually sat back and watched while the mafia infiltrated and took over the gaming or gambling world we had created for our own amusement and entertainment.
We should have known better and kept these guys out of our fun. History teaches us plenty of lessons, come to think of it. During the prohibition days in the US, when alcohol was banned, the mafia moved in; drugs were banned and the mafia moved in; prostitution was made illegal and the mafia moved in. When gambling was made illegal in some states the result was a foregone conclusion.
The mafia traditionally started and grew in Sicily from where it fled across the Atlantic to the US. But in contrast to the noble Sicilian mafia, the American mafia has proved to be a conniving, cold-hearted organization.
American mafia may have begun with the adoption of Sicilian ideals but it evolved into an organization out to make money by any means, usually as illegal as possible. Their control of the gambling and drug industries in the US is not a good direction.
Las Vegas, the so-called gambling capital of the world, was the brainchild of mobster Bugsy Siegel. Today illegal gambling is one of the mafia's largest industries.
Gambling and the mafia affect the economy. When the mafia sees a highly profitable enterprise they move in and try and gain control of that market. This ends up creating monopolies and prevents other firms from entering that market. It also leads to price gouging. Soon it is mafia-owned and closed to anyone from the outside.