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Bookin’, bettin’, and organized crime: A primer

It has occurred to me that the audience following the NBA betting scandal featuring referee Tim Donaghy and pro gambler Jimmy Battista, while cognizant of the general concept of illicit sports gambling, may not be as familiar with the traditional roles played by underworld figures in this arena.  This has permitted any number of misstatements and conspiracy myths to flourish vis-a-vis the Donaghy-Battista scheme.  (I very briefly summarized the common relationships between organized criminals and illicit gambling here.)

As it turns out, there is an ongoing bookmaking and betting “mob” case that can serve as a concise but great tutorial for interested parties.  Comically, and ironically, the case is based in Delaware County, PA, the same suburban Philadelphia county that is home to Battista (though there is no suggestion the current case has anything to do with him or with the NBA scandal).  The case has been widely covered in the print media, most especially by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Delco Times.

The so-called “Delco Nostra” case is relevant to the public’s understanding of the NBA betting scandal only to the extent that it exhibits the expected relationship between bookies, bettors, and organized crime (none of which have been alleged by federal authorities vis-a-vis the NBA scandal) and the expected use of the term “mob associate” (so loosely attributed to Battista first by Donaghy and then promoted uncritically by most in the media, though never stated in the official record or by law enforcement authorities throughout the case).

Here is how the Delco Times summed up the alleged relationship between these symbiotic “Delco Nostra” partners:

“A state grand jury linked (alleged bookmaking ringleader Nicholas “Nicky The Hat”) Cimino with the Philadelphia mob, citing his close association with Louis “Bent Finger Louie” Monacello. Cimino allegedly paid Monacello, an alleged associate and enforcer for the Philadelphia organized crime family, a regular sum of money every month as a “tax” on his illegal casino in Ridley, according to the grand jury presentment. Monacello was also allegedly used by Cimino to collect gambling debts and payments on high-interest loans.”

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General offered a corresponding synopsis of the caseGeorge Anastasia, the Inquirer’s well-regarded “mob” reporter, is featured in a short yet insightful vid clip (see below) summing up the “Delco Nostra” bookin’ and bettin’ case.

Thus, there are at least three key components present in the textbook illicit gambling “Delco Nostra” case that are not evident in the NBA betting scandal vis-a-vis organized crime: 1) a relationship between a bookmaker/bettor and an organized crime figure (a “mob associate” in the common/assumed usage of the term); 2) a payment/tax from the bookie/bettor to “the mob” for services such as collecting gambling debts; and 3) law enforcement authorities and the official record as the primary sources of the public’s information.

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