One of the first thoughts that comes to the minds of Aussie players when talking about casinos is their association with the mob. This is justified as the concept of casinos, gambling and Las Vegas have gone hand-in-hand for centuries.
It is said that the foundation of Las Vegas was actually built and funded by the ties with the mob. With their “persuasive methods,” the Mafia was able to erect many Las Vegas casinos and, in addition, ensure a constant flow of profits.
Casinos, The Mob and Triads
The mob and casinos have been famous for their strong and undying relationship. However, there is now a third party, a more modern party originating in Macau. Casinos in Macau are rumoured to have ties with “triads”. Triads are organised gangs; some could say the Chinese equivalent to the Mafia.
These triads have, and continue to, fight for land rights over the huge profits made by the casinos of Macau.
Taking a Step Back
To take a step back, the mafia and their involvement with casinos all came about in Las Vegas. With a few Mafia celebrities becoming notable, such as the likes of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra is said to have played a significant role in the emergence of Vegas being the core gambling destination of the world.
Where Did It All Start?
The Mafia in America were reckoned to be active as far back as the early years of the 19th century. However, it only held any real power by the early 20th century. Prohibition; a US ban on production, importation, transportation and the sale of alcohol; played a huge role in the emergence of the mob.
Due to the Prohibition, the mob started undertaking illegal activities such as the illegal production and sale of alcohol. It was through these activities that they started raking in the cash. With money comes influence and so, the rest is history. The mob was able to reach its fingers of influence out into markets such as; drug trafficking, loan sharking, number rings, prostitution as well as sports betting.
Who Was Involved?
Stand out names such as Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel transferred to full-fledged operations between the 1930s and 1940s. What this transfer consisted of was the launching of legal casinos in Cuba. This was short lived because after Castro came into power after the Cuban Revolution, he banned all American investments, which included the casinos.
Thereafter, the mob shifted their gaze to Las Vegas, where they decided to take another chance on opening a legal casino.
The Murder of Mob Kingpin, Siegel
After convincing multiple crime bosses to invest in the Flamingo Casino in Vegas, he did not follow through with his promises. Because of the vast amounts of funds he was losing on the project, as well as being unable to follow through on his promises, Siegel had a hit put on him. In 1947, Siegel was murdered in Beverly Hills.
After the murder of Siegel, Lansky took over operations. This saw a great turn around for the casino, as it soon became lucrative which attracted further mobsters to join the project.
Further, Lansky ended up owning a share of the Flamingo Casino for the following 20 years where he played a core part in the transfer of mob power within Vegas.
This saw power shift from New York families that had businesses in Vegas to the mob members. The 1950s and 1960s saw the mob reach the peak of their power in Sin City as they played a huge part in developing Vegas.
It’s All About the Money
Although casinos offered mobsters profits for their activities. It also played as a distraction for them to launder money for all the other illegal operations that they undertook.
Due to their ties to the labour unions as well as the construction firms they were able to profit from most business facets in the Sin City casino industry. Which included collection money and taking money off the top when possible.
When the mob had dug its claws deep enough into the gambling industry, they were able to open up casinos from the likes of;
- The Aladdin
- Circus Circus
- Desert Inn
By the late 1970s, every casino in Vegas had a connection to the mob. Until it was all halted by the efforts of law enforcement who decided it was time to take Las Vegas back.
Sin City Today
Today, Vegas is almost unidentifiable to the mob-run strip during the mid-1900s, which in essence put them on the map.
Which goes to show that no matter how far into the future you go, the past is always a good place to get a holistic view on something.