by George Anastasia, Jersey Man/Philly Man Magazine
Mob boss Joey Merlino, who has spent nearly half his adult life either in jail or on probation, is heading back to prison.
The flamboyant, 56-year-old South Philadelphia wise guy pleaded guilty to a gambling charge back in April that could carry a jail term of up to two years.
He is to be sentenced in federal court in Manhattan in September. By that point, it probably will be legal to place a bet on a sporting event—which is what Merlino pled guilty to—at any casino or racetrack in New Jersey. And it won’t be much longer before the same will be said for Pennsylvania and several other states.
The irony is not lost on Skinny Joey who has pointed out to friends that he will be going to jail for something that is no longer a crime.
This, of course, is the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned longstanding federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting. Bookmaking, long the exclusive legal province of Nevada, is about to become as common place as state lotteries.
Point spreads, over-and-under, reverses and parlays will be part of the new, everyday gambling parlance just as boxed and straight, once phrases common only to those who played illegal numbers, are now routinely uttered by anyone playing the lottery.
New Jersey, which spearheaded the legal push on sports betting, is ready to cash in. How big a boon this will be to the state’s casino and racetrack industries is hard to determine. But there is clearly money to be made.
Rest is here