What are the odds…

From the editor…

What are the odds of having a book on gambling reviewed in the Wall Street Journal? I’m no statistician, so I’m not going to answer that question, but it might be better betting than the odds on who will be the British PM at the end of the month…

Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars, by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Stephen Robetson and Graham, tells the story of ‘one of America’s rare black-owned businesses, turning over tens of million dollars every year’ (Harvard University Press ‘About this book). The reviewer says

Long before the arrival of glossy state-run lotteries in the 1960s and ’70s, smaller lotteries—illegal, but almost as well-organized as a Powerball drawing— thrived in poor neighborhoods. In Chicago, the lotteries were known as the policy racket. In New York, they were called the numbers game. The history of these illicit enterprises is a picaresque mélange of race and class, business acumen and organized crime. A significant part of the story—Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s—receives a thorough and insightful treatment in “Playing the Numbers,” which recounts a flowering of black entrepreneurship in addition to capturing how integral the numbers game was to the lives of average Harlemites.

Read the full Wall Street Journal review

Congratulations to the authors!

Julie-Ann Robson


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