Why So Many Bookies in Rhode Island? G911’s Thomas Somach Investigates

Written by:
Thomas Somach
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On December 10, 2006, police arrested a dozen bookmakers in the Providence, Rhode Island area, saying the bookies were part of a sports betting ring that took in more than $300,000 in illegal sports wagers a month.

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On November 17, 2008, police arrested 11 bookies in various cities throughout Rhode Island.

On May 5, 2011, police arrested two dozen bookmakers in various cities throughout Rhode Island, saying the bookies were part of a sports betting operation that took in $400,000 worth of bets over a six-month period.

On February 3, 2104, police arrested 13 bookmakers in northern Rhode Island, saying the bookies ran an illegal sports betting operation that took in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of wagers on sporting events monthly.

And most recently, on April 9, 2016, police arrested nine people in Providence, Rhode Island on gambling charges, saying those arrested were allegedly involved in taking illegal sports bets as well as running an illegal "numbers" operation. Three days later, in what was part of the same massive crackdown on illegal bookmaking in the state, police arrested 20 more alleged bookies in various cities throughout Rhode Island, busting a betting ring police say took in nearly $3 million in illegal sports wagers annually.

For such a tiny state, Rhode Island seems to have an awful lot of illegal bookies.

In fact, judging by the number of bookmaking arrests there in recent years, the state known as "The Ocean State" seems to have more bookies than many states that are many times larger.

Just what in the name of "Little Rhodey" is going on?

Gambling 911 looked into the matter and spoke with a major sports bettor in Rhode Island who has been wagering on college and professional sporting events for years, using several illegal bookmakers in the state.

So why are there so many bookies in Rhode Island, Gambling 911 asked the bettor.

"You have to understand something about the State of Rhode Island," said the bettor, who for obvious reasons didn't want his name used.

"It's a very Italian state, the most Italian state in America. About 20 per cent of the people in the state are of Italian heritage.

"And many of those Italians are in the Mob, or at least are Mob-connected," the bettor continued. "Bookmaking has long been a traditional way for the Mafia to make money. So the bottom line is that there are a lot of people in Rhode Island who make money by booking sports bets.

"It's been that way for a long time. Just look at the names of those arrested. Most are Italian names."

Gambling 911 also asked the bettor if any of his bookies were busted in the latest crackdown.

"I knew some of the names who were arrested, but I didn't use any of them," the bettor said. "But that's why I have more than one bookie. When you live in this state you have to have back-ups. You never know when another bust is going to go down."

By Tom Somach

Gambling 911 Staff Writer


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