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Where People Gamble Illegally in Chicago

Just going by the statistics: If you’re at a dice game in Austin, there’s a good chance Garry McCarthy is coming for you.

Chicago dice game

Photograph: Chicago Tribune

Dice game in Dev-Lin gambling house in Tessville (now Lincolnwood), possibly taken on August 25, 1935

Garry McCarthy announced yesterday that he wants an ordinance allowing the police to arrest anyone who hasn’t paid a ticket for the quality of life misdemeanors that people complain about the most: you know, public urination, drinking in public, and gambling.

The city’s data portal actually includes a list of gambling arrests going all the way back to 2001: 12,540 cases. They are disappointingly homogeneous. A full 82.5 percent—10,343—were dice games. Coming in second were illegal game/amusement devices, i.e. this sort of thing.

Here’s how it breaks down by community area (Austin tops the charts, but it’s also the city’s most populous community area):

And what it looks like:

Gambling in Chicago is as old as the city itself. Mark Beaubein’s Sauganash Hotel, the first frame structure in the city (built in 1831), featured gambling, and the first gambling crackdowns… started in the 1830s. Policy wheels once dominated the south and west sides. The Tribune has a great photo gallery of the many, many forms gambling has taken in Chicago over the years.

These maps—the ones McCarthy and company are studying—just show you what a classic city pastime looks like today.

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