Author David G. Schwartz discusses Chapter 8, “Wise Guys…

Author David G. Schwartz discusses Chapter 8, “Wise Guys & One-Armed Bandits,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition). 

This chapter covers the rise of Saratoga Springs as a racing and gambling center, the invention of slot machines, and the development of gambling syndicates throughout the nation. These groups dominated illegal gambling in the cities they controlled and were a precursor of the larger organized crime groups that took over during Prohibition.

Finally, it discusses the growth of illegal casinos throughout the United States, legal casinos in Cuba and Tijuana, and the Kefauver Committee, whose reforming zeal closed down illegal operations in many states.

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From the book: The first poker machine

Lots of people have heard of San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell, which was the first auto-pay reel slot to gain popularity. He unveiled it in 1899.

Fewer people know that the first coin-operated slot machine, a device that flipped through five decks of cards, with winners paid off in kind (not in cash) for “winning” hands.

It was an early, analog video poker machine. And it was invented in 1891, 8 years before Fey’s Liberty Bell, in Brooklyn, New York.

That’s just one of the many fascinating things you’ll read about in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling.

Behind the reels in Vegas Seven

There’s a Green Felt Journal in today’s Vegas Seven, focusing on what many slot players don’t see: To most players, slot machines are only screen deep. The spinning reels are what’s important. But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that makes the action possible. Without back-end systems to track play and account for … Read more

NV February numbers good, not great

Las Vegas Strip casinos had a strong February. From the LVRJ: When combining the first two months of 2010, gaming revenues are up 5 percent statewide and 13.4 percent on the Strip. “February turned out to be the perfect storm,” Control Board Tax and License Division Chief Frank Streshley said. “It was a record for … Read more

Family feud over jackpot

Often, gamblers decide to pool their resources and share both the costs and the gains from their gambling. Lottery clubs are the best example of this. Sometimes, though, it ends badly, as in this Connecticut case. From the Boston Globe: For years, Theresa Sokaitis and Rose Bakaysa were the closest of siblings, whiling away long … Read more