Michael Cassius McDonald

Nemesis of Reformers

Born 1839, Died 1907

Known as "Sure Thing Mike" or simply "King," Michael Cassius McDonald was an immigrant from the Irish Famine. He arrived in Chicago in 1862, becoming rich as a gambling kingpin, pimp, bail bondsman, and boxing promoter.

He has been credited with originating the phrases "There's a sucker born every minute," and "Never give a sucker an even break."1

McDonald took gambling out of dives to make it semi-respectable, opening a luxurious gambling parlor in 1873 that was simply known as "The Store," located at Clark and Monroe Streets.

When he was on top, McDonald ran Chicago, taking a tariff on everything stolen. This included all gambling proceeds and profits from prostitution and blackmailing. Twice a year he would have phony raids conducted on The Store in order to give headlines to the papers.2

He would be indicted in 1882 for operating a gambling house.3

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