Running Numbers

Often in movies or TV shows that deal with gangsters/mafia back in the 20s-30s, the make reference to a racket known as “running numbers.” From the context (and from various Google searches), I’ve been able to determine that it is some kind of illegal lottery. Which aed me to the following questions:

  1. How are the winning numbers determined? Did the Mob use ping pong balls?

  2. Why would someone have any faith that the Mob was picking these numbers entirely at random, and not just picking numbers that no one else had picked and/or picking numbers that enriched their friends or other business associates?

Have you being watching the same movie as ticker?
Posted Yesterday

Man, how’s that for a coincidence? Sorry about that. :smack:




Malcolm X, before his personal turn-a-around, was a Harlem numbers runner.

I remember seeing that in Spike Lee’s film, but it wasn’t clear to me what exactly he was doing. Thanks.