Chicago Tribune, March 24, 1928
Two hundred and fifteen gambling houses, at which Chicagoans freely and openly indulge in all the pastimes of chance known to the betting world, are listed herewith in THE TRIBUNE this morning. How many others are operating within the city limits is difficult to estimate.
Gambling authorities estimate that $2,500,000 every day is played in these places. Hundreds of thousands are wagered on the ponies; more thousands are played against poker and blackjack tables, and more are thrown before the whirling wheels of roulette.
This item of $2,500,000 represents only the money changing hands in the more more expensive forms of gambling, and does not include the lesser modes, such as slot machines, policy, punchboards, and other devices calculated to catch small sums.
Business Hurt by Gambling.
This presentation of a list of easily discovered gambling houses follows a continuing number of complaints from business men and owners of renting properties—flat buildings, small homes and other properties.
These complaints, briefly summarized, are that thousands of individuals of moderate salaries are finding it difficult to pay their rents and food bills. In one vicinity a bank, approached for a loan by the owner of a large apartment building, was told by the owner he needed the money to tide him over his coal bill. He explained that his tenants were unable to pay their rents.
The bank authorities made an investigation and found seventy gambling houses within the immediate neighborhood.
There us a gambling den within easy walking distance of every home in the city, according to operators of the syndicates. And there are places to fit the salaries of the barbers and the clerks, and places to suit the incomes of the rich. Some have bare walls and pine board tables. Some have luxurious fittings, studded roulette wheels, handsomely lighted green tables.
Cater to Women.
Many of the upper class palaces issue special invitations to women. One of the favorite places for the gambling women is Jerry O’Connor’s at 426 South Wabash avenue1, where day and night a large room, ornate and private, is provided for women who risk their husbands’ earnings at roulette. O’Connor’s is known as the place that has never been closed by the law.
Liveried attendants wait upon the feminine needs, and lounge rooms are provided for them to rest when the going gets too fast. The managers of these places tell with a chuckle of how their women clients announce to their husbands they are going to shop., demand some cash, and then find their way to the gambling tables.
Women play in the cheaper dens, too, and here they wager away the meager wages of toiling husbands. Money supposed to go for grocery bills and baby clothes goes in another gamblers’ till. In these places the games are poker, blackjack, craps, and fare bank.
Games of Every Sort.
All the gambling houses listed run books for all comers to bet on horse races. Most of them have card games, and the bigger places, such as Gorman & Murphy’s, at 212 South Clark street have all the games of chance on the gamblers’ list.
Gorman & Murphy’s is declared to be the biggest gambling house in Chicago. Sometimes 1,500 men are jammed within its doors. Men with megaphones announce the races and the results. They have megaphones because without them they couldn’t possibly be heard.
The place is located in the old building which once held the open board of trade. For the old time hue and cry of the grain brokers there has been substituted the drone of twenty croupiers at the roulette wheels; the flop of cards at fifteen games of blackjack; the din about the racing blackboards.
Chicago Police raid of a gambling den.
Competition is Keen.
All over the loop the gambling rooms thrive; they have become so numerous that they must enter vigorous competition for the trade. Many of the larger places have runners posted at the entrances and exits of their competitors, soliciting trade as the players come and go, and offering better odds, a squarer deal, and anything that comes to the mind in the hope of inducing them to leave the place they were playing, to patronize the runner’s establishment instead. They produce business cards to jack the player’s memory.
As a central headquarters for the racing books there is the great business house of Mont Tennes. For many years Mont Tennes has been a gambler in Chicago, but the picking was never so good as now, the promoters agree.
Tennes owns and operates a ticker system which operates directly from all the principal race tracks. From his central office private wires are strung all over the city of Chicago, into all of the gambling houses. Simultaneously these hundreds of tickers carry the results of all the races.
Not many months ago Tennes would install and maintain a line for $5 a week. But now the rates have gone up, the gamblers complain, until the rate now is a minimum of $10, and up to $250, depending on the amount of play.
A North Side Place.
Thousands of men in the city either operate a joint, or “have a piece of the joint,” as a part interest is called. One of the most active places on the north side, at 3447 Sheffield avenue, is operated by Sam Gessler, candidate for clerk of the Superior court on the Crowe-Thompson ticket. Any day or night will find poker, blackjack, roulette and horse race betting in full sway at Gessler’s.
O’Leary’s, famous gambling house of the stockyards district, where many thousands have been bet on every presidential election for fifty years, accommodate 500 players at a sitting, and it is seldom wanting for customers. It is still the boast at O’Leary’s that they’ll give you a wager on anything from a match of the coin to a bet on tomorrow’s weather. Games of craps, roulette, poker, and blackjack are always open to men of money.
Jack Guzik, brother of the pander pardoned by Gov. Small, holds forth at 526 South Wabash avenue. He owes his gambling profits to Scarface Al Capone.
The Black Belt Situation.
In the black belt there are so many gambling houses that they are crowding out the drug stores and candy shops. The operators of these places are some of them high in the society of their race. A pool hall at 531 West Division street, in which a horse racing book is run, is operated by rank Reeves secretary to Bishop Archibald J. Carey of the city civil service commission. At 226 Eats 31st street, under a benevolent sign entitled “Illinois Mission,” is run a gambling joint where any kind of bets are placed, even as to which of two flies will alight first from the greasy counter.
1 Built in the 1920s, the 2-story building was home to a night club in the 1920s, a restaurant in the 1930s, a textile company, in the 1940s, and the Universal Bowling Corporation from the 1960s to 2003, where it once served as the bowling company’s salesroom. Columbia College acquired the building in 2003 when it became the Averill & Bernard Leviton A + D Gallery, part of the Art + Design Department. The building also houses the campus mailroom and other campus offices.
Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1928
Acting under orders of Commissioner Michael Hughes, police squads commanded by Capt. George O’Connor raided four of the largest gambling houses in the loop yesterday afternoon. Nearly thirty men, alleged keepers of gambling places, were arrested and the police counted about 1,500 patrons who were allowed to go free.
Gambling paraphernalia valued at $10,000, and including roulette wheels, bird cages, va==cards, racing charts, and blackjack tables, was seized and taken to the South Clark street station.
Most of Joints Dark.
Last night a large majority of the more than 200 gambling joints listed yesterday were dark and patrons of many of them had been notified that there would be no reopening before Monday at the earliest.
The lid seemed to be on tightly in the loop and on the north and south sides, while the places on the near west side still remained open to gather in such trade as they could.
Police commissioner Hughes during the afternoon called in his deputy commissioners and talked with them about the gambling and crime situation in Chicago. Following this he declared that the reports were exaggerated.
Hughes Says List is False.
He announced that the list, as published was “mostly false,” and that he was willing to wager $500 that this was true.
“I am absolutely satisfied with the present crime situation in Chicago,” he asserted. “That’s not hot air. I can prove it by facts and figures.”
He added, however, that he had ordered the deputy commissioners to see that the captains checked up on all the addresses to determine whether there actually was gambling.
“Of course, there is some, but it is nothing like as bad as the newspapers picture it,” he continued. “We reduced crime 75 per cent in February from the 1927 February figures.”
Gambler Frankie Pope’s gambling table.
Raid Gorman & Murphy.
The chief’s raiders went first during the afternoon to the place of Gorman & Murphy at 312 South Clark street. Black jack and roulette was being played there and the race results were being announced.
Seven men charged with running games were arrested. Then the patrons were told they could leave. From the large rooms on the upper floor, by a tally taken by a policeman, 786 emerged. From a smaller room on the first floor, where an overflow crowd was accommodated, sixty-one marched out.
Several thousand persons gathered in front of the establishment while two trucks were brought and the seized paraphernalia loaded in. The police confiscated $741 that was on the gaming tables.
Let Patrons Go Free.
The next raid was at 178 West Randolph street. Here 326 patrons were given permission to walk out. Roulette wheels, black jack tables, and racing charts were seized. Eight alleged keepers were arrested and the police held $1,421 they found on the tables.
Next on the list was Jerry O’Connor’s house at 426 South Wabash avenue, which is patronized by both men and women. O’Connor’s horse had just won the Louisiana Derby and the crowd was in a jovial mood. He was absent, but thirteen of his employees and $400 were held. The patrins, about 400, were given permission to walk out.
Another place visited by the raiders was 306 West Madison street, where a small amount of paraphernalia was seized.
Shortly after the raids a woman, a would be patron of O’Connor’s, was informed that if she would come back at 8:30 in the evening she would be allowed to get in on the roulette “for ladies only.”
“Closed Until Monday.”
At 4 p.m. the players in Jack Guzick’s place at 526 South Wabash avenue were informed that there was a closing order and that there would be no more gambling there until Monday.
A checkup last night disclosed that all of the twenty gambling establishments in the Wabash avenue district were closed. About the only place on the south side that was going was Jerry O’Leary’s, at 1456-58 East 67th street. Even the part of this devoted to the patronage of women was closed. In the South Chicago district there was apparently no gambling.
At Pat O’Malley’s, 742 South Dearborn street, the only person showing life was a porter, who was scrubbing floors. Jimmy Mondl’s at 631 South Dearborn, was closed. So was 501 South Wabash avenue.
But in the west side cigar stores at 542 West Madison street, 606 West Madison, and 505 West Madison were open as usual. So was Lawrence Mangano’s at 522 South Halsted street and Putty Annixter’s at 3517 West Roosevelt. If there was a closing order they either hadn’t heard or paid no attention.
Police Say They Hunt in Vain.
Police captains on all sides of town asserted that they were striving to find gambling houses, in compliance with the chief’s orders, but were having no success.Deputy Commissioner James L. Mooney at the Town Hall station said that he could find none. Capt. Joseph Goldberg at Albany Park and Lieut. Edward Kelly at Chicago avenue announced that there was no open gambling in their districts.
But among the places still doing business was Gessler’s at 3447 Sheffield avenue; Frenchy Mader’s at Waveland and Broadway; Clark & Tuckerman’s at Clark street and Barry avenue, which closed at 9 p. m.; 2405 Blaine place, 4609 Lincoln avenue; 3170 North Clark street, and 913, 1117, and 1142 Belmont avenue. Many had lookouts to separate what might be called goats from sheep.