When one talks about old Las Vegas, images of mafia bosses and crime lords automatically spring to mind. The sort of crime bosses that wore stylish hats, expensive suits, and spoke in that very particular sort of “movie gangster” way. It’s an old fashioned image now, by all means, but it was not so long ago that such men all but had Las Vegas in the palm of their hands.
Las Vegas may be very different now, and widely seen as one of the entertainment capitals of the world, but go back just a few decades and Vegas was, for lack of a better term, a gangster’s paradise. Back in those days virtually nothing happened in Vegas that was not overseen by the greedy eyes of the mafia, and any who stepped out of line were quickly, and brutally, put down. Often with Tommy Guns.
Early Las Vegas Mafia Interest
It was 1945 when the mafia first took major steps in Las Vegas. There had been a mafia presence prior to this, but it had been largely hampered by tough locals who had refused to bow to the mafia, and stood tall against intimidation. In 1945, however, the infamous Bugsy Siegel made the first major mafia investment.
The investment came in the form of The Flamingo, a hotel and casino that would be seen as the first big ultra-luxury resort in Vegas. The construction of the location, although wrought with various controversies and multiple major setbacks, ultimately completed in December 1946, and The Flamingo opened. At first the hotel and casino resort was met with disinterest from the general public, but, after the untimely demise of Bugsy Siegel in a classic mafia “hail of bullets,” The Flamingo was taken over by another infamous mobster, Meyer Lansky.
The Fabulous Flamingo Success
Lansky changed the name of the resort to The Fabulous Flamingo, and under him the investment was soon a major success. Billed as the place to be in Vegas for high-class entertainment and gambling, the mafia was soon raking in cash hand over fist.
The success of The Fabulous Flamingo led to more investment by the mafia, and it was not long before a person in Vegas even wanting to participate in darts betting would in same way also be dealing with the mafia. The mafia maintained this level of control for some time.
The Fall Of The Mafia
There are a number of factors involved in the mafia eventually being entirely eradicated from Vegas, but many consider the arrival of billionaire Howard Hughes as the tipping point. Not a man to be easily intimidated, and certainly no stranger to controversy himself, Hughes made his own investments in Vegas, and the mafia lost ground to him.
Although Hughes eventually left Vegas, law enforcement saw to the remaining strongholds of the mafia. Today, of course, there is no mafia to speak of on Vegas, and the vastly popular entrainment city is not only mafia free, but a great holiday destination for thrill seekers of all types.