How Las Vegas Was Built by Crime

By  //  September 20, 2021

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Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination site for people who want to have a lot of fun, experience the vibrant nightlife or huge casinos and expensive hotels. Las Vegas is the destination for bachelor parties, honeymoons, epic sporting events, holidays with friends, and unforgettable parties.

It is also the global Mecca of gambling, which has resulted in Las Vegas having a thriving economy. However, the popular city is also known as Sin City because it dates back to the era when it was ruled by mobs.

Railroad workers and ranchers were the earliest inhabitants of Las Vegas and founded it. However, people quickly turned to gambling and prostitution and this attracted mobs who carried out organized crime in the East Coast.

The mafia bosses and mob used to rule with an iron fist while living luxurious lives funded by their illegal activities. They were violent and would operate their businesses behind nice police officers while paying off the bad ones to turn a blind eye. Despite their illegal operations, the mob’s activities played a huge role in how Las Vegas is today.

How mobs started thriving in Las Vegas

Back in the 1940s, Bugsy Siegel moved to Las Vegas to make some money. Siegel and Moe Sedway were funded by Meyer Lansky, who was a gangster from the East Coast. They started taking part in the race wire dissemination services and would give clients the horse racing results. That venture took off.

As a result, the gangsters started gambling and gained ownership of the Strip, Downtown Las Vegas, and El Cortez. In 1946, their financier Lansky, chose Siegel to oversee operations in the first casino called The Flamingo which attracted a lot of high-profile individuals from Hollywood. Unfortunately, the Flamingo only incurred losses, and Siegel was later murdered in his home.

In the following decades, most of the hotel casinos in Las Vegas were tied to Lansky and his organized crime operations. Other casinos in Riviera, New Frontier, and Strip Dunes were developed using illegal money and funds from Wall Street Banks and the Mormon Church. Other casinos were developed using million-dollar loans from mob-dominated pension funds.

The casino leaders managed to easily get away with crimes in this era. They would carry out illegal activities such as skimming and money laundering. Despite the high crime rates, the casino leaders operated the casinos successfully to avoid meeting a similar fate like Siegel who received threats when the mob-funded institution started incurring losses.

The fall of mobs and gangsters

The rise of mob influence in Las Vegas was increasing at a fast rate. To curb this, the state gaming regulators came up with a book that had the name of mafia members that were not allowed to enter or operate casinos. Las Vegas state officials desired to attract legit business investors.

On the other hand, the federal officials were searching for the mobsters and were trying to bring law and order to the city. Around the 1960s, Howard Hughes bought several hotels and casinos that were tied to the mobs, at a cost of more than $300 million.

This attracted legitimate conglomerates and investors and the mobs lost interest. In 1969, Nevada Legislature ensured that key investors and executives were licensed to own casinos by passing the Corporate Gaming Act. The federal authorities later captured many mafia leaders and the mobs eventually lost control over the Strip.

Many decades later, Las Vegas’s seedy past has been replaced by the entertainment capital of the world, boasting amusement parks, world-class restaurants, unrivaled stage shows, and industry-leading casinos. Sadly, given the current global climate it’s not always possible to head to Vegas to enjoy this wholly unique experience, which is why players looking for the best live casino games can find their own little slice of Sin City online.

Las Vegas is an interesting city because of its eventful history. Popular hotel casinos like Circus Circus and Caesars Palace were opened by money from the mobs, as Las Vegas was developed from gambling money, mob activities, and investors. It grew to become a tourist hub, attracting over millions of travelers and trillions of dollars to Nevada.