Skip to main content

San Diego Journalist Tackles America’s Obsession With Gambling

San Diego Journalist Tackles America's Obsession With Gambling


David Clary, author, "Gangsters to Governors"


Photo caption: The cover of "Gangsters To Governors" by David Clary.

Photo credit: Rutgers University Press

The cover of "Gangsters To Governors" by David Clary.

The San Diego Union-Tribune editor David Clary isn't much of a gambler. He rarely goes to casinos. He has never bought a lottery ticket and doesn't even play fantasy football. But he has spent the past six years researching America's gambling industry.

In the new book "Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America" Clary wrote about local government's relatively recent embrace of gambling revenue. Just a few decades ago, the only legally sanctioned U.S. casinos were in New Jersey and Nevada. Now there are legal casinos in every state except Hawaii and Utah. The gambling industry could swell again if the Supreme Court decides to allow sports betting nationwide this year.

"Governors are now the unquestioned masters of gambling, but their enthusiastic embrace of more casinos and richer lotteries is tipping the business out of balance," Clary wrote. "The question of how government should handle sports wagering and online gambling sets up a fascinating Catch-22: Keep the barriers and risk losing ground to organized crime and missing out on revenue, or remove them and put governors in command of yet more forms of bettering and accept the likelihood that they will overreach."

Clary joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss his reporting into the country's centuries-long fascination with gambling.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.