The casinos of Nevada report winnings of $250 million a year, a figure which surprises many people. They think it should be higher. Wallace Turner in Gamblers' Money ( Houghton Mifflin, $5.95) quotes Las Vegas opinion that some casinos report no more than two-thirds of their winnings. Others may report all, but on the average at least five or 10% of the actual winnings of all the casinos is unaccounted for—upward of $12.5 million a year.
Plainly inspired by the increase in legalized gambling of all kinds—betting on harness races, for example, has jumped to more than a billion dollars a year—a number of recent books have explored the mysterious area where economics, sport and legislation come together. Gamblers' Money is a shocker. The money siphoned off is what Las Vegas calls "black" money—money unrecorded, untaxed and, it turns out, almost unspendable or, at least, uninvestable. "The men who squirreled it away and hid it from the tax collector are barred from spending it on houses and Cadillacs and yachts," says Turner. That was Capone's mistake. Yet it accumulates too fast to be hidden. Turner, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his articles on the Teamsters Union, never quite convinces the reader that the infusion of black money into legitimate business is a national menace, but he gives an absorbing account of how it is handled, the tough and mysterious characters involved and such details as the amount of money on the tables at the Desert Inn ($500,000).
Harness Racing, by George Sullivan (Fleet, $3.95), is an altogether untroubled account of the recent stupendous growth of the sport. A neat, valuable handbook, it contains a 27-page history, records, biographies of horses and drivers. But the boom in harness racing, with more than 100 multimillion-dollar tracks built in 10 years, is explained by Sullivan only as the appeal of a "nostalgic link with the American past."
The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America, by William H.P. Robertson (Prentice-Hall, $25) is not much concerned with money or—for that matter—history. Rather, it is a roll call of magnificent horses—back to Diomed, the first winner of the Epsom Derby, bought for $250 and shipped to Virginia; and Haynie's Maria, the incredible mare that Andrew Jackson's best horses could not beat, who finally lost her only race at the age of 9; Sir Barton, who never won a race until he won the Kentucky Derby; or Gallant Fox, "lively as a puppy and just as inquisitive," left at the post in the Tremont Stakes while he watched an airplane.