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Sin City and Its Dark History
Las Vegas is a beacon of the casino industry that has been shining bright for years. It’s one of the few cities that has managed to stay relevant over the decades. When you think of Vegas you think of shiny lights, casino resorts, and the chance of making it big.
That’s all true, but Vegas isn’t called Sin City for no reason. The beginnings of most of the casinos aren’t exactly pristine clean. In other words, people looking for loans when building such prestigious resorts needed to go to other sources rather than banks. And some of the people that build and run them weren’t friends of the law.
The Mob and Sin City
It’s probably no secret that the mob ran most of Las Vegas back in the day. Usually, people that had casinos and knew how to run them didn’t have enough money to do so. They went to the mob for help and they slowly lost control of their resorts.
The mob had the money, but in most cases didn’t know how to run casino resorts. One of the earliest figures that stands out from the others is Bugsy Siegel. This was a notorious man that had made his mark on the Underworld, but he was also a man with a vision, which is why he decided to build the Flamingo casino.
Meyer Lansky was the money man that funded the Flamingo, but Bugsy just wasn’t cut out for casino work. So, they dealt him his last hand in his girlfriend’s home. Lansky brought in fresh blood to take care of the casino business and the model that Bugsy implemented was used to run some other joints like the Desert Inn and Thunderbird. But the State wasn’t having it so they decided to fight back.
The Anti-Mob Crusaders
Senator Kefauver decided to take on organized crime and went after the mob. After a long and tiresome battle, he managed to get Moe Dalitz, a mob associate, to agree to a hearing, and organized crime caught the eye of the public. This was just a small win for the State as gambling didn’t slot down in Nevada and the mob.
The 50s saw the shakedown of more mob-owned casinos such as Stardust, Tropicana, Dunes, and others. It was revealed that several of these establishments were financed via the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund and that Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa was a controversial figure as he might have had ties to the mob.
In the 60s the Book of Undesirables was another attempt at keeping the mob out of the casinos. This time, Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s brother, was leading the fight. But besides his efforts casinos on the Strip multiplied and the mob didn’t lose any of its influence. Caesar’s Palace and Circus Circus were 2 casinos opened with Teamsters funding.
Another win for the Anti-Mob Crusaders was when Howard Hughes bought off the Desert Inn and ended the mob reign in that casino. This was followed by Corporate America’s move on organized crime and this resulted in the RICO Act which helped the Justice Department to go after the mob. But did it help rid Sin City of organized crime?
The Unbreakable Bond
The State managed to get rid of the mob in Vegas, but there are still remnants of organized crime in the city. The mob may be gone and the old ways along with them, but it seems that Vegas can’t shake away its ties to crime.