Illegal sports betting and loan sharking have long been two of the most vital rackets for the Mafia.
They so often go hand and hand providing Cosa Nostra with millions of dollars in illicit profits per year. It’s been called the mafia’s bread and butter and it was just dealt what some consider to be a major blow. The recent ruling by the US Supreme Court to lift the ban on sports gambling will definitely have an effect on the mob’s bottom line. The more dominate New York Mafia seemingly stands to lose the most although others like the Philadelphia mafia and Chicago Mafia will also take a hit.
Money made from these traditional rackets like sports gambling has allowed the mafia to branch out into other things over the years. Legal sports betting will definitely take away a portion of that reliable and extremely useful income although it may not be the end of the road. Mafia run operations will likely be able to offer gamblers better odds than the new state-run operations in the form of less juice and better payouts on exotic wagers like parlays. They operate with less overhead and they don’t have taxes and fees to worry about figuring in so these savings can be passed on to the player.
Veteran sports gamblers who have been sidestepping the old laws will likely remain loyal to their mob-linked operations at least to an extent taking advantage of potential benefits. The state-run operations will flourish more from a new wave of players looking to wager because it’s now legal for them to do so. Add that to the fact that the majority of gamblers inevitably lose leading many of them to need readily available cash loans which the mafia-linked operations supply via loan sharking giving them another edge. In fact, legalized sports gambling may actually lead to an uptick in mob-run loan sharking rackets especially in the major cities like New York.
It’s still unclear just how many states will decide to get in on the sports betting action. So the immediate effect on organized crime may not be all that substantial. There is no doubt that this ruling will reduce the mob’s overall clientele in the short and long term. So did the Supreme Court just push the American Mafia out of the sports betting business probably not but they certainly aren’t happy about it. They will have to once again adapt and adjust something they have proven capable of over the years.