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Mafia rules in Havana casinos, part 2
Gamblers at table
by
Havana 1955
`Honesty is the best policy` was the slogan of these hoods in Cuba. They had learned that more money is made faster when their enterprises had good public relations. They donned conservative, made-to-order suits, white shirts and ties, and cleaned up their grammar. With government charters, there was no need for gangland slayings a la Capone to bump off the opposition because there was no opposition.
The tourists and well-heeled Cuban customers in the casinos had no need to worry about loaded dice, stacked decks or a fixed roulette wheel. The theory of mathematical probability and the laws of chance assured the house of winning.
So the racketeers kept it clean...to the point of hustling out of their fancy dens any slick operators who wanted to fleece the customers with unchartered methods. When word of this reached the United States via Madison Avenue, the gambling boom was on in Cuba.

When the American tourist reached Havana after a five-hour flight from New York, he had a choice of about five multi-million-dollar swank hotels. There were also numerous nightclubs in Havana which had facilities for gambling. All were million-dollar-plus establishment Batista had changed the gambling laws in 1955 to allow gambling rooms in any club or hotel worth a million. His government also helped finance the buildings and put up millions to help with construction. Import duties were waived on materials for hotel construction and Cuban contractors with the right `in` made windfalls by importing much more than was needed and selling the surplus to others for hefty profits.
These schemes were what had aroused the wrath of Castro and the citizens of Cuba. They saw their government giving money with little return expected; what should have been returned to the government coffers with interest went to line the pockets of corrupt officials.

The government was to get $25,000 for license plus twenty percent of the profits from each casino. What Batista and the `in group` got has never been certified. It was rumored that to get a license a fee for $250,000 and sometimes more was required under the table. Periodic payoffs were requested and received by the corrupt politicians.
The slot machines in Cuba, even the ones which dispensed small prizes for children at country fairs, were the province of Roberto Fernandez y Miranda, Army general, government sports director and Batista`s brother-in-law, Roberto, was also given the parking meters in Havana as a little something extra. Parking meters didn`t fare too well when the rebels first came to town.

by Cuban Information Archives Website
Article ID 221
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