What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is the motto of many people that visit this city every year. That motto even holds true back in the day when Las Vegas was first founded by a group of mobsters. The mob history of Vegas is deep and has created many myths and legends.
Many films, The Godfather, Bugsy, and Casino, have paid homage to the mob history of Las Vegas and how the mob helped to shape the city into the bustling, gambling, metropolis that it is today.
During the Great Migration that happened between 1880 and 1924 many Italians and Slavic Jews came into the U.S. These immigrants and their children faced discrimination which cost them well-paying and much needed jobs. So, some of them turned to illegal jobs like gambling, prostitution, protection, and bootlegging. This in turn helped to start the mob here in America.
The majority of the mob was made of Italian and Jewish immigrants. The Italians were the muscle and the Jews were the administrator and accountants. They got their start in New York City and then moved on to Las Vegas.
Siegel was the exemption to the rule; he was Jewish and was the muscle. He committed multiple murders and had Hollywood under his thumb when he took over the movie unions in the 1930s. It is rumored that Siegel “invented” Las Vegas. But, he wasn’t the first mobster in Nevada. In the 1920s Sill Graham and Jim McKay, they ran with the notorious Al Capone, helped to run Reno’s main casino. Then Frank Detra, another of Capone’s friends, moved to Vegas and started one of the first casinos on Highway 91, better known as Las Vegas Boulevard or more commonly “The Strip”. Eventually other Chicago mobsters would join in Vegas and start hotels on their own.
The mob connections to the original casinos are a long one. Moe Sedway, Meyer Lansky, and Busy Siegel started or ran the Flamingo. Tony “The Hat” Cornero, Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, and Allen Sachs are linked to the Stardust. Johnny Rosselli and Joe Agosto had the Tropicana, Anthon “The Ant” Spilotro ran Circus-Circus. Sorkis Webbe is associated with the Aladdin. And there are many more where that came from.
To add to the mob legends a few of these famous Las Vegas mobsters are linked to the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro. Among those are Sam Giancana, Johnny Rosselli, and Santo Trafficante.
The mob ties to Las Vegas a linked indelibly to the rich history of the city. And, the stories have helped to shaped it to the city it is today.