The kingpin in the Bally deal was Sam Klein, a Clevelander with longtime ties to illegal gambling, according to Demaris. The best passage on Klein comes from Mobbed Up, the book by James Neff about the life of Teamster and mob boss Jackie Presser. Klein told the author that Bill Presser, Jackie's equally disreputable father, had come to him to talk about his son. "His old man was very unhappy with his performance and got me to beat the shit out of him in the early '60s," said Klein. "We are dear, dear friends."
According to Demaris, Emprise and Klein were critical in the financing that led to the transmogrification of Chicago's Lion slot-machine maker into Bally. Later, Klein gave Bally stock to the Presser family, and the Teamsters Central States fund loaned the company $6 million. In 1969, according to Demaris, the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation said that Sportservice and Emprise "have many admitted contacts and dealings with individuals who are hoodlums or alleged Mafia leaders. This is particularly true relative to their many concessions at stadiums, racetracks, ballparks, and so forth." (Italics mine.)
Neff's book also says that Jackie Presser had a girlfriend who was on the Sportservice payroll but didn't show up at work.
Said Emshwiller in his 1994 story, "In 1973, five years after Lou Jacobs's death, a report by the House Select Committee on Crime concluded that, 'Emprise knew, or should have known' that it was the financier or business associate for operations with alleged mob connections stretching from New England to Nevada."
Emprise got negative publicity over fallout from the 1976 assassination of Don Bolles, an investigative reporter for the Arizona Republic. Bolles had written a series of articles about Emprise activities in Chicago, Detroit, and particularly in Arizona, where it was in the racing business and had close ties with top political and business leaders. According to investigative reporter Michael Wendland, Bolles went to Washington, D.C., to tell a congressional committee about Emprise.
On the day of his death, Bolles had an appointment to meet with a racing-dog owner named John Adamson, who claimed he had more information on Emprise. But it was a trap. Adamson never showed up, and Bolles's car blew up. According to media reports, the critically wounded Bolles mumbled the name of Emprise, along with that of Adamson and the Mafia.
The drama played out for years. Adamson admitted planting the bomb. Two other alleged co-conspirators were sentenced to death on Adamson's testimony. But the convictions were overturned. Adamson was prosecuted for first-degree murder and sentenced to death. But that was overturned, too. The three eventually did spend time in prison.
Emprise was not charged in any way after an investigation by Arizona politician Bruce Babbitt. But later there were widely publicized investigations into whether the company had been given favorable treatment by Babbitt, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Jacobs family through the years. Babbitt has consistently denied that the contributions affected his decisions. "When Mr. Babbitt was attorney general and later governor of Arizona in the 1970s and early 1980s, he had helped work out arrangements allowing Delaware North to remain in the racetrack business there despite the 1972 [Frontier casino] conviction," wrote Emshwiller in 1994.
Questions about Babbitt's relationship with the firm continued as he went on to become secretary of the interior under President Bill Clinton. The charges didn't stick, but the publicity over Babbitt, as well as the alleged mobsters through the years, did not help Delaware North.