10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

There was more to Meyer Lanksy than what you might've seen on "Boardwalk Empire." The mobster played a large role in turning Las Vegas into a Mafia-run gambling destination. Bettmann/Corbis

Mob history tells of two famous occurrences in now-famous locales. The first was in 1929 when, under the guise of celebrating mobster Meyer Lansky's honeymoon, organized crime figures met up in Atlantic City to discuss prohibition. Specifically, they discussed how the Mafia could profit from the end of prohibition by investing in casinos and nightclubs [source: Harper]. As the other story goes, Lansky and his right-hand man, Bugsy Seigel, looked at a Las Vegas desert and saw its potential as a gambling Mecca. In life and in lore, Mafia and casinos are inextricably linked. It makes sense: Odds are designed to be on the side of the house, regulators are paying less attention than they might be in other industries, and the Mafia has the muscle to make the sometimes-volatile gambling business run somewhat smoothly.

The mob connection helped build Las Vegas into the multi-billion-dollar tourist destination it is today. But aside from in the occasional museum, theme restaurant or run-in with one of the locals, tourists aren't likely to see evidence of the Mafia in Vegas these days. Even casinos have gone corporate.

But mobsters have adapted to the times and taken their act online. These days, they are more likely to be busted for online sports gambling. In 2008, a Queens district attorney charged the Gambino family with illegal sports and casino-style gambling operations. Players were allowed to borrow gambling money at 200 percent interest [source: Bonner]. More recently, members of the Genovese family in New Jersey were indicted for making millions of dollars each year through illegal gambling operations [source: Ivers].

In Europe, officials have raised concerns over the vast amounts of money being laundered by the Mafia through online gambling, particularly sites based in Germany, where there are no penalties for illegal gambling activities [source: Walther].