Cutting the Wire: Reviews

Here’s what people have said about Cutting the Wire

Eugene Christiansen

Journal of Gambling Issues :Issue 19, January 2007

Cutting the Wire examines the American experience with gambling through the lens of the 1961 Wire Act. The book is a well-researched history of federal gambling policy, focusing on the Wire Act as part of Robert F. Kennedy’s initiative against organized crime. The evolution of gambling, illicit and legal, in the U.S. is traced from premodern times through the advent of the Internet, with a discussion of the Department of Justice’s reliance on the Wire Act in its response to this development. Professor Schwartz’s well-researched study of the Wire Act is a unique and valuable contribution to the literature. His careful examination of (unsuccessful) Congressional attempts to ban interstate wagering on horse races in 1910 and again in the early 1950s is particularly useful. This often forgotten legislation is the precursor of not only the Wire Act of 1961 but also the Interstate Horseracing Act (1978) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006).

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Journal of High Technology Law

Zachary Hillman, 2005-2006 issue

This book demonstrates the author’s superior knowledge of the history of gaming and the social, political and technological implications that arise from it. The book highlights the constant struggle between the American desire to gamble and state and federal government measures to control this desire in an entertaining and illustrative manner. While Schwartz addresses the Wire Act and its legal implications upon Internet gambling, his survey is more concerned with the effects that Internet gambling may have upon United States culture. As such, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a qualified analysis of the social and cultural impact of the Internet on gambling. I would also recommend this book for a history of the development of gaming in our culture.

Overall, Cutting The Wire is a convincing, enjoyable, and well-written book.

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New York Review of Books

Fall 2005 University Press supplement

Cutting the Wire recounts the development of the Wire Act, how it was used to fight against the involvement of organized crime in American gambling—both legal and illegal—and how federal authorities attempting to control online wagering through offshore facilities are using it today. By placing the Wire Act into a larger context of Americans’ continuing ambivalence about gambling, Schwartz produces a provocative, deeply informed analysis of a national habit and the vexing legal, social, economic, and political predicaments that derive from it.

Chronicle of Higher Education

Nina C. Ayoub – October 7, 2005

As U.S. attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy was a bookies’ nightmare. He hated gambling. His wrath was incurred not by bets between friends, says David G. Schwartz, or by casual poker games (Kennedy’s own Justice team indulged), but by the activities of oddsmakers that fed into organized crime.

In 1961, the AG saw a pet piece of legislation, the Wire Act, pass Congress and receive his brother’s signature. While the law was never the weapon against wiseguys that Kennedy hoped — that would wait for the more flamboyantly named RICO, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, Act of 1970 — it was a constant irritant. It banned the use of telegraph or telephone to transmit bets or, exempting news organizations, information that assisted in the placing of bets. What Kennedy could not have imagined was the act’s future use against Internet gaming.

Mr. Schwartz’s tale of the Wire Act’s new life bookends Cutting the Wire: Gaming Prohibition and the Internet (University of Nevada Press). In between, the author, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, explores the longstanding ambivalence that has marked gambling’s history in the United States.

Gaming in America, he notes, both predates the birth of the nation and helped to create it, with the lottery held by the Continental Congress to defray the costs of war. Legal gambling virtually disappeared in the Progressive Era, although illegal forms flourished. Later, anxieties about mobsters spurred calls for federal action….

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