One of the easiest and most profitable “semi-legitimate” businesses the mob ever developed was the coin-machine industry. Starting right after the repeal of the alcohol Prohibition in 1933, racketeers of all stripes started looking for other revenue streams now that bootlegging liquor was a thing of the past.
Many turned to gambling which had always been around but had never been developed to its full potential as a premier racket. Bookmaking on horses, baseball, basketball, and other sports soon became the “go-to” racket operation many engaged in. Bookmaking became a popular vocation, as bookies accepted bets on nearly everything that moved.
Alongside that was the policy racket or numbers lottery, a hugely popular game of chance mostly played in the poorer sections of the city. The Italians had always run their own lottery with the winning number being drawn weekly from Italy and telexed to the states. There were also punchboards, high-stakes card and dice games, and many other casino-type games.
But of all these variations on gambling probably the simplest gambling racket of all became slot machines or one-armed bandits as they were commonly referred to.