The city of Chicago has always been notorious for its association with organized crime. The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Mafia, has been a part of the city's criminal underworld since the early 1900s. The outfit has been involved in various illegal activities, including gambling. In this article, we will delve into the history of the Chicago Outfit's involvement in gambling and how it has impacted the industry.
The birth of the Chicago Outfit
The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Mafia, was formed in the early 1900s. It was a collection of various Italian-American criminal organizations that banded together to establish a centralized group that would control all criminal activity in Chicago.
Formation of the Outfit
The formation of the Chicago Outfit was a result of the city's increasing immigrant population and the rise of organized crime. These various groups, including the Sicilian and Calabrian mafia, recognized the benefits of joining forces and working together towards a common goal.
In 1910, the first official meeting of the Chicago Outfit took place. It was attended by various gang leaders, including Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. The group decided to create a hierarchy, with Torrio being named as the first boss.
The Outfit's first leader
Johnny Torrio was a prominent figure in the Chicago underworld and played a significant role in the formation of the Chicago Outfit. He was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States at a young age. Torrio quickly became involved in criminal activity, starting with petty theft and eventually rising through the ranks to become a powerful gang leader.
Under Torrio's leadership, the Chicago Outfit flourished. He was known for his business savvy and his ability to keep the group organized and focused. Torrio also recognized the importance of expanding the group's operations beyond Chicago and began to establish connections in other cities, including New York and Detroit.
However, Torrio's reign as the Outfit's leader was short-lived. In 1925, he was nearly killed in an assassination attempt and decided to retire from the criminal underworld. He handed over control of the Outfit to Al Capone, who would become one of the most notorious gangsters in American history.
In conclusion, the formation of the Chicago Outfit was a result of various Italian-American criminal organizations coming together to create a centralized group. Johnny Torrio played a significant role in the group's formation and was the first official leader. Under his leadership, the Chicago Outfit became a powerful criminal organization, laying the foundation for the organization's notorious reputation in the years to come.
Prohibition and gambling
The Prohibition era in the United States from 1920 to 1933 was a time of increased criminal activity, particularly in the area of alcohol production and distribution. However, the Chicago Outfit also saw an opportunity to expand their operations into illegal gambling.
The Outfit's Involvement in bootlegging
With the rise of Prohibition, the demand for alcohol skyrocketed. The Chicago Outfit saw this as a lucrative opportunity and began to expand their bootlegging operations. They controlled the production, transportation, and distribution of illegal alcohol throughout the city and beyond.
The Outfit's involvement in bootlegging allowed them to establish connections with other criminal organizations, including the Italian-American Mafia in New York. The Outfit also used their profits from bootlegging to expand their operations into other areas, including illegal gambling.
The emergence of illegal gambling
Illegal gambling had existed in Chicago long before Prohibition, but the Outfit saw an opportunity to expand their operations in this area as well. They established illegal casinos, known as "speakeasies," throughout the city. These establishments offered everything from slot machines to high-stakes card games and were often run by Outfit members or associates.
The Outfit's involvement in illegal gambling allowed them to earn significant profits while also maintaining a relatively low profile. They often paid off local law enforcement officials and politicians to turn a blind eye to their operations.
However, the Outfit's success in the illegal gambling industry eventually drew the attention of federal law enforcement. In the 1950s, the Outfit's gambling operations came under scrutiny during the Kefauver Committee hearings, which exposed the extent of organized crime's involvement in illegal gambling across the country.
In conclusion, Prohibition provided the Chicago Outfit with an opportunity to expand their operations beyond bootlegging and into the world of illegal gambling. Their involvement in these activities allowed them to establish connections with other criminal organizations, expand their operations, and earn significant profits. However, their success in this area also drew the attention of federal law enforcement, ultimately leading to the exposure of their illegal activities during the Kefauver Committee hearings.
Chicago Outfit wire service
One of the Chicago Outfit's most profitable criminal enterprises was their control over gambling wire services for horse racing. The wire service allowed for illegal bets to be placed on horse races across the country, and the Outfit's control over the service gave them a significant amount of power and influence in the horse racing industry.
The Outfit's involvement in the horse racing wire service dates back to the 1920s, during the Prohibition era when many criminal organizations turned to illegal activities such as gambling to make a profit. The wire service allowed bettors to place bets on horse races from anywhere in the country, and the Outfit's control over the service ensured that they received a cut of the profits.
The wire service also gave the Outfit a significant amount of influence over the horse racing industry. They were able to manipulate races and outcomes by controlling information and betting odds, allowing them to make significant profits off of fixed races. The Outfit also used their influence to extort money from horse owners and trainers, using threats and intimidation to force them to pay up.
The wire service was highly profitable for the Outfit, and it became one of their primary sources of income. However, the government eventually caught on to the Outfit's illegal activities and began a crackdown on their gambling operations.
In 1951, the government launched an investigation into the wire service, which led to the arrest and conviction of several Outfit members. The investigation also led to the downfall of the wire service, and the Outfit's control over the horse racing industry began to decline.
Today, while the Outfit may no longer control the gambling wire service for horse racing, their impact on the industry is still felt. The wire service allowed the Outfit to gain a significant amount of power and influence, and their control over the industry helped to shape the way horse racing operates in the United States. The Outfit and Las Vegas
The Chicago Outfit's involvement in Las Vegas began in the 1940s when they started investing in casinos and hotels in the city. Over the years, the Outfit's influence in Las Vegas grew significantly, and they gained a reputation for their control over the city's gambling industry.
The Outfit's influence on Las Vegas
The Outfit's influence on Las Vegas began with their investment in the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. The Flamingo was the brainchild of infamous gangster Bugsy Siegel, who was a close associate of Outfit boss, Al Capone. Siegel received a substantial loan from the Outfit to finance the construction of the Flamingo, and in return, the Outfit received a percentage of the hotel's profits.
As Las Vegas grew in popularity as a gambling destination, the Outfit began investing in more casinos and hotels in the city. They had a significant influence over the city's politics and law enforcement, often using their connections to control local officials and politicians.
The Outfit's control over casinos
The Outfit's control over the casinos in Las Vegas was extensive. They often used their financial power to intimidate casino owners and employees and to enforce their own rules and regulations. Outfit members and associates were often hired as dealers and pit bosses, allowing them to keep a close eye on the casinos' operations.
The Outfit also had significant influence over the casinos' profits. They often demanded a percentage of the casino's earnings in exchange for protection and used violence and intimidation to ensure their demands were met.
The Outfit's control over the casinos in Las Vegas continued well into the 1970s, when the federal government began cracking down on organized crime's activities. In 1986, the FBI launched Operation Strawman, which led to the arrest and conviction of several Outfit members for their involvement in the casinos in Las Vegas.
In conclusion, the Chicago Outfit's influence over Las Vegas' gambling industry was significant. They used their financial power and connections to control the casinos' operations and profits, and they had a significant influence over the city's politics and law enforcement. While their control over Las Vegas' casinos eventually came to an end, the Outfit's involvement in the city remains a significant part of the city's history.
The fall of the Chicago Outfit's empire
For several decades, the Chicago Outfit was one of the most powerful and feared organized crime groups in the United States. However, in the 1980s, their empire began to crumble, leading to their eventual decline in power.
Government crackdown on the Outfit
The government crackdown on the Chicago Outfit began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the formation of the Organized Crime Strike Force. The Strike Force was a joint effort between the FBI, the IRS, and the US Attorney's office, and their goal was to dismantle the Outfit's criminal activities.
Over the next few years, the Strike Force successfully prosecuted several Outfit members for various crimes, including extortion, racketeering, and murder. However, the Outfit continued to operate, and their power and influence remained strong.
In the 1980s, the government's crackdown on the Outfit intensified, with the launch of Operation Greylord. The operation was an investigation into corruption within the Cook County court system, which the Outfit had been using to protect their criminal activities.
The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of several judges, lawyers, and other court officials, many of whom had ties to the Outfit. The operation dealt a significant blow to the Outfit's power and influence, and their criminal activities began to decline.
The Outfit's decline in power
The Outfit's decline in power was also due to internal conflicts and leadership struggles within the organization. In the early 1980s, Outfit boss, Sam Giancana, was assassinated, leaving a power vacuum at the top of the organization.
Several Outfit members vied for control of the organization, leading to internal conflicts and violence. The organization also faced increased competition from other organized crime groups, particularly the New York-based Mafia.
As a result, the Outfit's criminal activities began to decline, and their power and influence continued to wane. Today, the Outfit is still active, but they no longer hold the power and influence they once did.
In conclusion, the Chicago Outfit's empire fell due to a combination of government crackdowns, internal conflicts, and increased competition from other organized crime groups. While the Outfit's power and influence may have declined, their impact on the city of Chicago and organized crime in the United States will never be forgotten.
The Chicago Outfit's involvement in gambling has been a part of its criminal empire for over a century. From the early days of bootlegging during Prohibition to the outfit's control over Las Vegas in the mid-20th century, the outfit has played a significant role in the industry's history. However, with the federal government's crackdown on organized crime in the 1980s, the outfit's power and influence over the gambling industry declined. Despite this, the Chicago Outfit remains a notorious part of Chicago's criminal underworld.
Q. What is the Chicago Outfit?
A. The Chicago Outfit is a notorious organized crime group based in Chicago. They have been involved in various illegal activities, including gambling.
Q. When did the outfit first become involved in gambling?
A. The outfit's involvement in gambling dates back to the Prohibition era in the 1920s.
Q. Did the Chicago Outfit have any influence on Las Vegas?
A. Yes, the outfit had significant influence over the gambling industry in Las Vegas during the 1950s and 1960s.
See more: Mafia impact on Las Vegas in early years, 'Ndrangheta mafia involvement in gambling, Tropicana casino history