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Gambling Laws in New York

In Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section, during the height of illegal gambling, the amount the lottery game Policy operations brought in during the year1970 exceeded $36 million. Of that sum organized crime withdrew an estimated $11 million from the community.

If the $51 million that was spent on heroin in 1970 is added to that figure, the total organized crime take from Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1970 exceeded $62 million, $6 million more than the federal government received from it in taxes.

On the other hand, organized crime was also a major ghetto employer. In 1970 policy alone provided some 15,000 jobs in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Lotteries have been an on-again-off-again form of legalized gambling since the first gambling laws were enacted, and they remain a dilemma for New York City.

In December 1874, Congress dropped its ban on broadcasting lottery information. Since that time several states have instituted major television and radio coverage of their lotteries. In July of 1975, New York joined this trend, in a return to early nineteenth-century practices.

Based upon a popular television game show, New York's first lottery broadcast was a half-hour prime time affair featuring finalists in the state's super $1 million lottery.

Billed as the 'largest giveaway in history' and hosted by a popular television celebrity, the broadcast attempted to create a sense of drama to entice the playing instincts of the viewers. The lottery is still in effect.

To preserve this revenue, track managers developed a system of 'oral betting', which was held to be exempt from the bookmaking law. Again, the court acted to protect betting as entertainment.

Bookmaking, like gambling and lotteries, continued to grow throughout the twentieth century as a business of organized crime. The drive to stop betting on races was not appreciated by track owners, who had come to rely on the large amounts of money that bookmakers paid to owners.

The only defense available to a possession charge was that the item was neither used nor intended to be used for bookmaking or Policy.

Decriminalization regarding on-track betting came about to stem the persistent illegal gambling and the increased profits that organized crime received from it.

New York began to investigate the possibility of returning to the earlier pattern of legalizing certain forms of gambling that could be carefully motivated by public officials.

The need for increased revenues that arose between the two World Wars, combines with the invention of the pari-mutuel totalizer, prompted New York to pass a constitutional amendment in 1939 by which the legislature was empowered to authorize pari-mutuel betting on horse races.

Such betting was to yield impressive revenues to the state.

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