Two separate police raids in New York have seen seven Mafia and organised crime bosses charged with running illegal gambling dens.
In the first, reported last week, Abduraman Iseni was sentenced to four years imprisonment for his part in running underground poker and table games throughout Brooklyn.
Iseni is known to have been part of the Diamond Enterprise organised crime gang, who are said to have close ties with the Mafia. He has already served more than a decade behind bars for offences including racketeering and money laundering, and as well as his new stint behind bars he has been forced to cough up $350,000 from the proceeds of his illegal poker games.
And a news story today has confirmed that a further six crime bosses – linked to the infamous Genovese family in the state – have also been arrested and charged with illegal gambling offences and loan sharking.
The six, who are thought to include mob ‘captains’ Nicholas Calisi and Ralph Balsamo, made their ill-gotten gains across New York City, running underground casinos and poker games that ultimately saddled their players with huge debts – the Mafioso being only too happy to assist with loans and credit.
Ahead of their day in court, the half-dozen were charged with a string of offences, which include the alleged generation of ‘income for the enterprise through making, financing and collecting extensions of credit by extortion, operating illegal gambling business, and other offenses.’
With the possibility of 20 years in prison for each member of the enterprise, New York State’s attorney general, Letitia James, claimed the Genovese family have ‘terrorised New York communities with violence and illegal businesses.’
Big Problems in the Big Apple
An investigation carried out by the Wall Street Journal highlighted the extent of the illegal gambling problem in New York and particularly Brooklyn.
And the issue made global news headlines when one punter, who was leaving an NYC gambling den with wads of cash on his person, was shot by masked gunmen in broad daylight back in 2021.
Even the most pessimistic of estimates claim that there are hundreds of illegal casinos, poker games and other gambling operations currently in existence in New York – even though casino gaming, and now sports betting, are both legal in the state.
The dens typically operate from the back rooms and basements of buildings in use for legal purposes – from grocery shops and off licences to bars and even hairdressing salons. The issue is that police must build a sizable dossier of evidence before they are able to raid these games….often having to plant their own officers inside a gambling room or by trying to ‘turn’ an informant.
Incredibly, New York ranks only twelfth of all the states in the US for illegal gambling arrests, which suggests that law-makers are not making enough inroads into the Mafia-led problem in NYC or that other states have, troublingly, even greater issues.
A 265-page research paper into illegal gambling rackets in New York was published as long ago as 1982. Forty years later, the problem looks no closer to being solved.