“The prevailing opinion on the side of the public is that Las Vegas and the mob have been inexorably linked, and I don’t think it will ever be extricated,” says Guy Rocha, a former state archivist. “We owe the Mafia a debt of gratitude for the development of Las Vegas, and we have nothing to be ashamed of.” “With the good, the terrible, and the ugly, it was the mob who propelled Las Vegas ahead.”
The Comic Strip:
Nevada outlawed gambling in 1910, but this opened the door for illegal casinos and speakeasies. When it was authorised again in 1931, organised crime was rampant and had already established a foothold in the city. The first Vegas resort opened ten years later. Others soon followed suit, forming what we now refer to as “The Strip.”
The infamous Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in 1946 with the help of mob associate Meyer Lansky, a luxurious resort that booked top-drawer talent for its clubs and shows. These get-togethers were attended by “everyone.” Despite this, Siegel, who had no prior business experience, failed to make the resort successful, causing expenditures to skyrocket and the mob bosses to lose money.
A year later, Siegel was assassinated, but his vision for the Flamingo and Las Vegas lives on. New mob-connected managers took over the Flamingo. This group has both physical and mental tenacity. Gus Greenbaum, a long-time Phoenix bookmaker and veteran casino operator, Sedway, Davie Berman, a Minneapolis gambling veteran, and Ben Goffstein, a veteran of often-violent newspaper circulation fights. Some had a violent past, but they were all seasoned businessmen who made the Flamingo extremely profitable.
The Black Book (also known as “The Black Book”)
Almost every casino and hotel in Nevada had some connection to Lansky and organised crime over the next two decades of legalised gambling. However, contrary to popular opinion, their illegality did not continue throughout the operation. The casinos, the city, and even Nevada itself were built around the Mob’s values. Almost all of them played fair games: they valued the ability to operate lawfully and didn’t want to jeopardise it, and the odds were so stacked against them that they didn’t need to cheat.
Because of the rise in mob activity, a so-called “Black Book” of Mafia member identities was compiled. The state gaming commission verified that these individuals were barred from entering casinos. Officials from the federal government were on the watch for these bandits. Mob activity on the Strip reduced once billionaire Howard Hughes began buying up these hotels. Even so, the skimming operations continued due to the same individuals staffing the tables and counting rooms.
The Mob Loses Its Hold:
Even the Corporate Gaming Act, which allowed significant investors and executives to own casinos rather than individual stockholders, couldn’t stop the Mob from exploiting loopholes in 1969.
Tony the Ant, also known as Anthony Spilotro, arrived in Vegas in 1971 to take over loansharking and skimming. Spilotro, a Chicago enforcer and hitman for the Chicago mob, handled his operations out of the Circus Circus gift shop. He was later discovered dead and buried in a cornfield; rumour has it due to his avarice. Federal agents had apprehended many other mob members. All of this contributed to the Mafia’s loss of control over the Strip.
With time, the Strip evolved into the world’s entertainment centre. It is well regarded among a plethora of other world-class locations. More importantly, the hotel and casino business has been a steady source of revenue and employment for the city.