The Early Days of Las Vegas May 1905 marked the founding of Las Vegas. Las Vegas was not a typical city for 40 years; for most of its existence, it was a sparsely-populated desert town, located some 80 miles away from Death Valley. A tourist paradise is not something the first generation of residents could have imagined.
The National Crime Syndicate controlled most of the illegal gambling establishments – a loosely-connected umbrella organization that governed much of the American underworld. A Russian-Jewish immigrant, Meyer Lansky, and Italian immigrant “Lucky” Luciano controlled it. There were mainly two locations for gambling joints and casinos: Miami and Cuba. Because air travel made America smaller and because Nevada was the only state in the union where gambling was legal, it was a bright spot on the criminal world’s investment map. Things have changed since then, and gambling is not only legal but available from the comfort of your home, you can find the best casino bonuses in Canada.
The Rise of Bugsy Siegel
One of the most famous personalities of this underworld was Benny “Bugsy” Siegel, who had first visited Nevada in 1941 in hopes of finding the ideal location to set up the legal gambling capital of the country. On his first scouting mission, Bugsy ended up empty-handed. In spite of the Jewish gangster’s recognition of Las Vegas’ potential, the city’s first casino owners refused to sell out their stakes. By combining cash and threats, Bugsy eventually purchased a small gambling hotel downtown with the help of the right seller.
He hired the best interior designers to work on the project, and the hotel was equipped with the most expensive furnishings to match. Bugsy’s ostentatiousness knew no limits when it came to his work on the project. It was he who designed the deluxe suites. He invested primarily in the casino and bar of the Flamingo Hotel because he believed they would provide the most income for the new business.
The Fall of Bugsy Siegel
The reputation of Las Vegas as a sleepy desert town has changed over the years, but it could not draw tourists beyond the holiday season. A month after it opened, the Flamingo Hotel closed. Siegel incurred heavy losses, as did his angry investors. Due to his stubbornness, the gangster borrowed more funds from banks and outside investors in order to get back into the game. A warning was included with the money.
While Bugsy ignored the threats and invested in additional renovations, the casino business in Las Vegas remained stagnant. It started off as a slow period that Bugsy thought would pass soon, but as the losses continued to pile up, he had a hard time ignoring the truth.
It appeared either that his partners were being duped by their friend, or that he had lost his business sense. There was no denying that Las Vegas was becoming increasingly burdensome.
Bugsy Siegel finally met the violence that had plagued him all of his life on June 20th, 1947. Siegel was killed while vacationing in Las Vegas. During the weeks and months following his murder, news stories appeared about the Jewish gangster who had based his criminal empire in Las Vegas, a little-known city. The death of this man contributed to Las Vegas’s reputation as a city of decadence and corruption, a reputation that would transform Las Vegas into Sin City within a few years.
When the Cuban revolution took place in 1959, Lansky’s casinos and those owned by his fellow gangsters were nationalized. Their Miami businesses were heavily damaged. As a last resort, the Jewish mafia boss turned his attention to Las Vegas, the city his late friend had so dearly loved.