FORMER MOB leader Michael Franzese stressed the importance of “education and enforcement” to help tackle the subject of gambling in sports.
In an exclusive interview with CU Today’s James Bourne Franzese compared the situation to his previous experience and stated that there was a solution to gambling addiction.
Franzese said: “It’s all about education and enforcement, and the two have to go hand in hand. You’ve first got to let the players know, and those associated with the game, what the dangers are, how they can get themselves caught up.
“You could be in a gambling situation, not realise you’re hanging with the wrong people, and before you know it you’re in over your head financially, and somebody’s taking advantage of you; and you don’t have any way out other than to compromise a game.
“That’s what I used to do: put a player in that position to where he had to do our bidding.”
Franzese’s past as the ‘Prince of the Mafia’ culminated in him becoming a captain of the notorious Columbo crime family in New York, having joined as a member aged 24.
Now, having left the mob, for the past 12 years he has spoken at over 400 colleges in America about the difficulties that gambling addiction can entail. He also founded – and remains the chair of – the Breaking Out Foundation, an organisation which Franzese says lets people know “how serious the consequences of gambling in sport are”.
Franzese inferred that the rise of the Internet has been detrimental to the problems of gambling. “Gambling is extremely prevalent in sports,” he said. “It’s more prevalent today than it was when I was involved in it. You go into your room now, jump online and start gambling away”.
Franzese remained pragmatic about the future: “I don’t think there’s any way to stop it [gambling] because of the revenue that’s generated. You’ll always have gambling, and you’ll always have players who are compromising the game. These are people who have an opportunity to make money; they’re in a career that invokes competitiveness.”