Las Vegas in Retrospect
With it's ties to Organized Crime
And Benjamin "Bugsy" Seigel.
Clayton L. Blackwell
CJ350 Organized Crime
Final Project 2
NEVADA GAMBLING GLITCH
Nevada became the first state to legalize casino gambling, but not before it was reluctantly the last western state to outlaw gaming in 1910. At midnight, October First, 1910, a strict anti-gambling law became effective in Nevada. It even forbade the western custom of flipping a coin for the price of a drink. The Nevada State Journal newspaper in Reno reported: "Stilled forever is the click of the roulette wheel, the rattle of dice and the swish of cards." "Forever" lasted less than three weeks in Las Vegas. Gamblers quickly set up underground games where patrons who knew the proper password again applied their skill and luck to games of chance. The illegal but accepted gambling flourished until 1931 when the Nevada Legislature approved a legalized Phil Tobin's gambling. Tobin had never visited Las Vegas and had no interest in gambling. He said the legalized gambling legislation was designed to raise needed taxes for public schools. Today, more than 43 percent of the state general fund is fed by gambling tax revenue and more than 34 percent of the state's general fund is pumped into public education. Legalized gambling returned to Nevada during the Great Depression. It legitimized a small but lucrative industry. That same year construction started on the Hoover Dam Project which, at its peak, employed 5,128 people. The young town of Las Vegas virtually was insulated from economic hardships that wracked most Americans in the 1930s. Jobs and money were prevalent because of Final Project 3
Union Pacific Railroad development, legal gambling and construction of Hoover Dam 34 miles away in Black Canyon on the Colorado River. World War II stalled major resort growth in Las Vegas. But the seeds for future expansion had been planted in 1941 when hotelman Tommy Hull built the El Rancho Vegas Hotel-Casino on what is now vacant land opposite the current Sahara Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. During World War II, nearby Nellis Air Force Base grew into a key military installation. Originally built to train B-29 gunners, it later became the training ground for the nation's ace fighter pilots. Many key military personnel assigned to Nellis during World War II later returned as civilians to take up permanent residency in Las Vegas. Today thousands of people are connected to Nellis in the form of active duty personnel, civilian employees, military dependents and military retirees. The success of the El Rancho Vegas triggered a small building boom in the late 1940s including construction of several hotel- casinos fronting on a two-lane highway leading into Las Vegas from Los Angeles. The stretch of road evolved into today's Las Vegas Strip. Early hotels included the Last Frontier, Thunderbird (Still standing as the Arubu Hotel & Spa) and Club Bingo. The El Rancho Vegas was razed by fire on June 17, 1960. As time passed, many other first-generation Strip resorts lost their identity through absorption by new owners, demolition, extensive renovation and name changes. Final Project 4
By far the most celebrated of the early resorts was the Flamingo Hotel, built by mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, a member of the Meyer Lansky crime organization. Benjamin Hymen Siegelbaum aka "Bugsy" Siegel was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a poor Austrian Jewish family, one of five children. As a boy, Siegel joined a street gang on Lafayette Street in the Lower East Side and first committed mainly thefts, until, with another youth named Moe Sedway, he devised his own protection racket: pushcart merchants were forced to pay him five dollars or he would incinerate their merchandise on the spot. During adolescence, Siegel befriended Meyer Lansky, forming a small gang whose criminal activities expanded to include gambling and car theft. Siegel...