Casper Holstein was a gangster in the early 1900’s. His legacy as the “Bolito King” was known in the underground numbers racket of Harlem, New York. Holstein was an original native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and got his start in the numbers game on Wall Street. After serving in the Navy and working as a porter and a doorman, Holstein worked his way to Wall Street as head messenger for a brokerage firm. While working on Wall Street he became very familiar with the stock market. He began studying the numbers system, an illegal lottery often played by impoverished New York City residents.
Holstein came up with the idea to create his own lottery. He later developed the lottery called Bolito and by 1920, he earned the name in the underworld of New York as the “Bolito King.” This game was a private lottery, where players would pick a three-number combination. Holstein paid out 600 to one, while the real odds of any number were 999 to one. So he raked in a steady profit and so became a wealthy man. In 1928, Holstein was kidnapped by five white men who demanded a ransom of $30,000. He was released three days later, and insisted that he did not pay out any ransom. He never identified the men because of business reasons.
It has also been noted that he gave back into the black community. He is recognized as one of the major patrons of the Harlem Renaissance, helping out writers, artists and many others. Each year, for decades, he donated food baskets to the needy. It is also noted that he funded dormitories at black colleges, supported a Baptist school in Liberia and funded a home for delinquent girls in India; he also gave cash to the Democratic Party and helped fund Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Holstein passed away from a long illness before World War II ended.