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Gambling and Crime Hearings

Gambling indeed has become immensely popular.

So popular, that the crookedness and such twisted ideas that eventually leads people into amassing success overtime, had been proved worthless and rich in controversy.

The Kefauver committee investigation was the next major development on the American gambling scene--- into the links between gambling and organized crime.

Like the traveling evangelists at the turn of the century, Senator Estes Kefauver took his hearings to cities (fourteen in all) throughout the United States.

Publicity for the hearings was generated through the fledgling medium of television.

Kefauver investigators took for granted (often without independent corroboration) that organized crime controlled gambling.

Witness after witness (drawn from enforcement agencies) testified that gambling was controlled by the mob and that gaming proceeds were used to finance a multitude of nefarious syndicate activities, including loan sharking, prostitution, drug dealing, and bribery.

In addition, the Kefauver committee presented evidence of massive police corruption and concluded that large-scale illegal gambling was possible only with the cooperation of paid-off policemen.

According to Kefauver informants, the mob controlled its profitable bookmaking empire through monopoly of the race wire.

They further alleged that the mob controlled casino gaming (including slot machines) and numbers rackets.

The committee recommended far-ranging federal legislation to restrict and prohibit gambling.

At the same time, it called on state and local agencies to step up their enforcement of anti-gambling laws already on the books.

Although the Kefauver committee hearings were widely publicized, the recommendations did not spur immediate action.

On the federal level, the only significant legislative action taken was the 1952 Wagering Tax Act, which required gamblers to pay a 10 percent excise tax on any wagers they accepted and to purchase a fifty-dollar gambling stamp.

The act did not provide funding for enforcement, however, and its provisions were rarely enforced.

Fallout from the Kefauver committee temporarily hindered further legalization of gambling, as evidenced by a 1952 American bar Association pronouncement that 'professional gambling should not be under any circumstances or in any degree be licensed or legalized.'

A Chicago crime commission member succinctly described the philosophical basis for anti-gambling sentiments: 'Gambling as a business is wrong. That's the starting point for any proper discussion of this question. It is founded not only on morality but on the hard fact that gambling draws money from the regular channels of trade vital to the well-being of a nation. Gambling is parasitic by nature.'

Ten years after the Kefauver hearings, another federal commission, the McClellan committee, presented evidence of the huge profits that organized crime garnered from gambling.

Witnesses before the Mclellan committee submitted estimates of the volume of illegal gambling ranging from a low of $7 billion to a steep $50 billion.

The latter figure was more than the U.S. defense budget for 1960. One of the McClellan's investigators, Robert Kennedy, was firmly convinced of the baleful influence of gambling.

When Kennedy became U.S. attorney general, he was able to secure legislation that granted federal officials more authority to investigate gambling activities, an action taken because Kennedy and other justice officials had grown disillusioned with local efforts to combat illegal gambling.

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