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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and Bill Foley pose for photographers during a news conference on June 22 in Las Vegas. Gambling, he said, was a fundamental nuisance in a country that was fundamentally opposed to the practice.
Bettman announced an expansion franchise to Las Vegas. In 1950, America was waking up to the problem of organized crime. Although a few states (including Nevada) permitted some gambling, Mc Grath told the gathering that the overall public policy of the United States “condemns organized gambling and makes its activities illegal.” Sen.
Howard Mc Grath convened a conference, primarily of big-city mayors, to discuss the root causes of the rackets (the word “mafia” had not yet entered the popular lexicon).
Estes Kefauver later amplified this theme during his chairmanship of the Senate’s Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce.
Thanks to their television exposure, the hearings made Kefauver a national political force (which he parlayed into the 1956 Democratic vice presidential nomination) but did little to stop Americans from gambling.
If anything, they helped Las Vegas by prompting the cleanup of illegal casinos in the rest of the country.
In that atmosphere, professional sports — whose legitimacy has at times been tainted by gambling-related scandals from the infamous 1919 Black Sox to college-basketball point shaving — were right to distance themselves from gambling.
It was mostly illegal and, even where it was allowed, was not well-regarded by the rest of the country.
With the United States nearly unanimous against gambling, legal or otherwise, this was a no-brainer. Lynch would have to concede that the basic public policy of the United States is pro-gambling.
All but six states run lotteries, taking in nearly $74 billion last year.