Michael Franzese, former caporegime of the Colombo Crime Family, isn’t sold on this whole regulated sports betting thing.
As reported by the New Haven Register, the ex-wise guy told attendees at an online discussion on sports integrity for the University of New Haven that Connecticut’s legalization of betting has him “worried.”
In mid-March, after two years of hitting a brick wall, the state’s two federally recognized tribes reached a deal with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont that will allow gambling expansion that includes sports betting. In return, their Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos will increase revenue-share payments with the state.
Look, you know I’ve always been against legalized gambling, online especially,” said Franzese, the son of Colombo underboss Sonny Franzese. “From a standpoint of people gambling more … gambling addiction spreading, that’s what the state should be worried about. I’m worried about people and their livelihoods,” he added.
The Mob, which counts illegal gambling as a bread-and-butter revenue stream, is perhaps right to be worried about legal and licensed sports betting. One of the strongest arguments for regulation is that it disrupts illegal gambling monopolies, thereby weakening organized crime.
But Franzese’s concerns about potential social ills are apparently genuine. He became a born–again Christian during a spell in prison for gas bootlegging in the 1980s and, on his release, went straight.
Now, he denounces the Mafia life as “an evil life” and makes a living at a motivational speaker at schools, prisons, churches and Christian conferences.
Fixed Yankees Games
But Franzese does know a thing or two about sports integrity. During his Mafia days, he was a silent partner in a sports agency that once represented 44 NCAA athletes and has admitted bribing amateur athletes to fix games.
Even more sensationally, Franzese has claimed that in the 1970s and 1980s he convinced some New York Yankees players who were in debt to the Mob to fix games, an allegation that has been denied by the team officials.
Match fixing is always going to go on,” Franzese claimed. “As long as you have people willing to gamble and other people willing to take advantage of that person, then you’re going to have match fixing.”
Backers of sports betting in Connecticut and other states will argue that modern data analytics can detect suspicious wagering patterns that should expose attempted match fixing.
Connecticut is targeting the new NFL season in the fall for the launch of sports betting and online gaming in the state.
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