Cutting the Wire: Annotated Contents

I received so much positive feedback from the annotated table of contents for Suburban Xanadu that I’m going to do it again for Cutting the Wire. –dgs

Introduction: Kennedy’s War Continues

Robert F. Kennedy fought a war against organized crime, and the Wire Act was an essential part of that struggle. Even though Kennedy and the racketeers he battled are long gone (for the most part), his legal weapon against the syndicates is being used against sports bookmakers and even, we learn, against legal, licensed foreign businesses.

One: Legal Vices and Illicit Diversions

I wanted something here that captured the ambiguity Americans have always felt towards gambling. This seems to be the starting point of my first two books.

Two: The Anxious Decade

Americans were anxious in the 1950s, no doubt out it. The communist menace was only the least of their worries: they were beginning to understand that there was something called organized crime out there as well. I think that the connection beween Cold War hysteria and rabid the antigamblers of the early 1950s has not been thoroughly explained, and this chapter connects the two–and talks about the changes in gambling prohibition during the 1960s.

Three: Camelot Strikes Back

This one should be obvious: the second (or is it fifth) Star Wars movie. If Bobby Kennedy was Luke and Estes Kefauver was Obi-wan, who was Chewbacca? I learned my personal favorite fact about the Kennedys while researching this book: Bobby lunched every day on lamb chops and chocolate ice cream (with chocolate sauce) brought in by his butler. This, while he complained that Americans were obsessed with “making a buck.”

Four: Booking the Bookies

I like words that have wildly different meanings, hence the wordplay here.

Five: A Money Jungle from Sea to Sea

I got this title from Duke Ellington’s Money Jungle, a 1962 album with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The expansion of legal gaming in the past 50 years is, I think, a historic shift that has been largely uncelebrated.

Six: Point, Click, and Bet

What better title for a chapter about the birth of online betting?

Seven: March Madness

They (don’t ask me who “they” is) call the March 1998 indictments of the operators of six “offshore” Internet sportsbooks the “March Madness” Prosecutions. April may be the cruellest month, but March is mad.

Epilogue: High Stakes for a Wired America

The point of this brief epilogue is that the United States is a nation of gamblers and technological change means that they are increasingly going to be gambling on the Internet. It’d be nice for Congress to lead the way with careful study and well-thought out legislation, but I’m not optimistic thus far. In the end, I think money will talk: reading about the nearly universal condemnations of numbers games in the 1950s and knowing that, in the 1970s and 1980s, most states couldn’t get into the lottery business fast enough makes me think that the government will be getting involved sooner rather than later.

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