Las Vegas has been a melting pot of criminal activity throughout history. Did you know that the Mafia had a firm grip on Las Vegas’ revenues for a long time? In this article, you will learn how it came about and why the Mafia will somehow always be a part of Las Vegas. Before we begin, however, we would like to mention that gambling does not automatically constitute criminal activity. Usually, casinos not on GamStop, and markets are regulated and legal. But before you play, you should find out about the regulations in your country.
Las Vegas & the Mafia: How It All Began?
Las Vegas has long been a small, simple place in the desert. The region was settled circa 1854, and gambling was legalized in 1931. That was, so to speak, the starting signal for the development of the region. But it was still a long way to the Las Vegas that we know today. The famous “Las Vegas Strip” and the hotel complexes with integrated casinos are part of the cityscape today, but it wasn’t like that from the beginning.
But how did the city actually develop into a gambling metropolis? This is where the Mafia comes in! Legendary gangster Al Capone made gambling legal in Nevada in the early 1930s. Organized crime was also “introduced” to him. The mafia gangs established themselves mainly by running nightclubs and paying bribes.
Also, the capital needed to establish gambling in the first place came from the Mafia. Incidentally, at that time, gambling was still strongly associated with crime and the red light district. Money laundering was a common business model, and the Mafia took control of Las Vegas gambling at the time. Gradually, Las Vegas became what it is today!
Will the Mafia Always Be a Part of Vegas?
Las Vegas could only come about through the Mafia’s thread-pulling – even if the city’s image has changed, this is an unavoidable fact. A key figure in this process was Bugsy Siegel – he received endless fame for his role as a “Vegas visionary.” Its financing models were imitated for decades.
A prominent underworld figure in the early days of Las Vegas, he always saw it as a place where big bucks could be made – and without much bloodshed. Because although gambling was legal and established as an industry at the time and also very profitable, banks and hotel groups wanted nothing to do with it. The adventurers and players were left with no choice – they were forced to accept the Mafia’s loans.
The Mafia, on the other hand, took this money from the pension funds of the long-distance drivers’ unions, which they controlled. The loans were also tied to the stipulation that important positions in the casinos would be filled by their own people.
These, in turn, channeled the cash flows, which were difficult to keep track of, into their own pockets. This tactic was called “skimming.” Nobody used them more elegantly than the longtime boss of the Stardust – Frank Rosenthal. Even Martin Scorsese memorialized him with his film “Casino.”
To this day, legends surround many of Las Vegas’ powerful figures. Tony Cornero, the previous boss of the Stardust – was he found with poison in his blood dying on the gaming table at the Desert Inn? Frank Sinatra – owned 9% of Las Vegas, but how connected was he to the underworld? Frank Costello – a mafia thug who was shot and found Tropicana numbers in his pocket? Countless questions to which there is no answer and probably never will be.
The general uproar over Las Vegas’ connections to the mafia world was, however, actually contained. For example, the governor of Nevada and co-owner of the Thunderbird Hotel said in a state hearing that as long as they behave appropriately, they probably won’t do any harm.
But the pressure to take action against the mob increased over time. For example, the Gaming Control Board, created in 1959, denied casino licenses to applicants with Mafia contacts. Anyone who drew attention to themselves through fraud was entered in the “Black Book” by name, which led to a ban from all casinos.
Las Vegas Today
At the beginning of the 70s, Las Vegas experienced a change and also developed in the direction of families. To this day, Las Vegas is not only a gambling metropolis but also a family amusement park. Since then, entertainment and shows have played a major role in Las Vegas and provide an incentive for tourists from all over the world to visit.
Incidentally, a man named Howard Hughes is responsible for this – he was the beginning of the end of the Mafia era in Las Vegas, so to speak (although it is unclear how much influence the Mafia still has today). The millionaire heir, entrepreneur, and film producer bought the city from the Mafia, so to speak – within four years, he took over everything that had been built and built up to that point. Gradually, the Mafia lost (obvious) influence. Mafia has never been an issue in non GamStop casinos.