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This from the NY Times - March 8, 1964

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The gamblers of Hot Springs are locked in a struggle with the Federal Government to maintain their control of the biggest illegal gambling operation in the United States. The enterprises flourish with the support of the 30,000 residents of Hot Springs. Gambling has been a major feature af life here since Civil War times. The gambling places are wide open. They are on the pattern developed in the legal casinos operated in Nevada. The conduct of gambling is defined by Arkansas statute as a felony, punishable by up to three years in the State Penitentiary. But no gambler is prosecuted in Hot Springs. The state liquor laws also are ignored in Hot Springs. Last month the investigations by Federal agents were stepped up, and top officials of the Department of Justice have announced that they intend to push still harder. The only cloud on the horizon for the men who control these gambling and bootlegging operations is the interest of the Federal Government. William G. Hundley, chief of the Organized Crime Section in the Department of Justice, explained his interest this way.

“This is the largest illegal gambling operation in the United States. It is difficult to feel that it is self‐contained.” Local officials and the gamblers themselves in Hot Springs insist that there is no connection with national underworld syndicates. “The day anybody brings me any reliable information that the Mafia or any out‐ of‐state people are involved in Hot Springs is the day I'll get on the radio and television and in the press and take the battle to the public to attempt to bring about a complete reform in Hot Springs,” said David B. Whittington, the Garland County prosecutor. John Ermey, the chief of police, said of the question of outside interests: “If there ever was any, I don't know of it. The fellows who run the two big clubs were born and raised here.”

To read more on the New York Times Archive:

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