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Women as Organized Criminals: An Examination of the Numbers Gambling Industry in New York City (From Readings for Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice, P 123-138, 1999, M.L. Dantzker, ed., -- See NCJ-200493)

NCJ Number
Donald R. Liddick Jr.
Date Published
16 pages
This article discusses the degree to which women participated in New York City’s numbers gambling industry.
Numbers gambling is a simple form of an illegal lottery where bettors usually wager a small amount of money on a three-digit number. The data on female numbers gamblers used were derived from New York City Police Department reports. The police reports provided detailed information about the personnel involved in the delivery of numbers gambling services. The structural characteristics of each targeted numbers enterprise was outlined, and in some cases a schematic was included with the police report. Most of the police reports were dated from 1962 to 1966. There were limitations in the observations of police officers. Results show that, of the 1,666 numbers workers identified, 222, or 13.3 percent, were females. The organizational roles of many of these women could not be ascertained from the police reports. The police did identify 83 collectors, 59 pick-up persons, 12 bankers, 26 controllers, and 19 bank clerks that were female. This looks like a typical distribution of roles within numbers firms, with low-level collectors and pick-up persons comprising the majority of personnel. For those subjects whose ethnicity was determined, the largest percentage were African-Americans (31.1 percent), followed by Hispanic (18.9 percent), Italian-American (14.9 percent), and Jewish (4.1 percent). The ethnic distribution of the entire sample, male and female, reveals that the most prevalent group overall was Italian-American, followed by African-American, Hispanic, and Jewish. The data clearly indicate that males dominated the numbers industry. Women did comprise a considerable minority of all numbers personnel observed. Due to frequent arrests, lesser-known females in some organizations replaced male functionaries. These women often resorted to the use of disguises or moved numbers play in the company of other women or children. Women were proportionately less likely to fill management positions than were men. 1 figure, 3 tables, 11 references


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