Southern California’s gambling armada
During the 1920s and 1930s, gambling ships were a common sight along the southern California coast, floating between legal loopholes until a swift crackdown in 1939.
There may have been a gambling ban in California at the time, but state jurisdiction only extends three miles out to sea. Meanwhile, gamblers assumed that the lack of a federal ban on the practice kept them relatively in the clear. At least until Aug. 1, 1939…
From the Times’ original article on the final straw for law enforcement:
Moving the arm of California law out to sea yesterday representatives of the state and county governments closed three gambling casinos off Santa Monica and Long Beach and blockaded another, marooning 600 patrons on board.
More than 250 deputy sheriffs and district attorney’s investigators participated in the raids, which were conducted with utmost secrecy.
At Long Beach, the Mt. Baker (The Showboat) and the Tango were boarded and taken over by officers who placed nearly a score of men in custody and seized more than $30,000 in stakes.
For more on the lawless nearby Pacific, and The Rex, a single ship which was frequented by more than 850,000 individuals in a year, head over to Framework.
Photos: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Wide World Press