Mafia in Las Vegas

Mafia in Las Vegas

It was the Mafia members who had helped the city of Las Vegas to grow into a legal gambling hub and resort. Much of the contribution towards this aspect was made by Mafioso Meyer Lansky, who in order to avoid blame, incase, the Las Vegas gambling project failed, had enlisted the task to Bugsy Siegel.

Setting up of casinos

The job of Siegel was very clear cut, towards raising enthusiasm and cash from the other Mafia families in the region and in other cities of the United States. With pressures from the Mafia, the first casino in Las Vegas, ‘Flamingo’ had a shaky start, as it had been compelled to be opened much ahead of schedule. There were also other troubles faced by Siegel, who is known to have skimmed off a good amount of money from Mafia controlled Union’s pension funds and construction money. The Mafia with this discovery had demanded their money to be returned back, giving a deadline. It was Flamingo’s success that the hopes of Bugsy were pinned upon. He got assassinated by the Mafia Families, who thought the poor start would mean they will not be able to retrieve their cash.


After Flamingo was taken over by Lansky, its fortuned turned. Within a year, this casino achieved immense success and was profiting manifolds of its investments. It is this success which had prompted the other Mafias to get into the scene and make Las Vegas their playfield.

Involvement of other Mafias in Las Vegas

With the approval of the Mafia, over $50 Million were used from the Union’s Pension Funds. The New York Mafia families were joined by the Chicago Outfit by 1950s. Three major casinos were run by the Outfit, which included the Riviera, Desert Inn and Stardust. Later in 1960’s, the new additions were Golden Nugget, The Hacienda, Fremont and Sahara casinos.

Handling competition

With several Mafia Families getting involved in building resorts, competition increased and concerns grew over profit sharing. A deal was agreed upon by the different Mafia Families to give each on an interlocking share in other Mafia’s resort and the piece received by everyone was huge.

But from 1960s, the Mafias of Las Vegas saw their fall, with Howard Hughes, an eccentric  and reclusive billionaire managing to get some changes within the Nevada law to forbid corporations in buying interests in resorts, casinos and hotels. But, in his venture, he lost money. During the 1980s, the FBI attacked all Mafia interests and casinos were cleaned and sold to owners who were legitimate, who went on to change the very look of the city, thereby making it a family based vacation hotspot.