Gambling has always been related to some shady characters, and through the history, many casinos were officially or unofficially run by mafia bosses.
We take a look at some of the most famous cases of mafia allegedly operating and running casinos and bring you the seven most notorious big bosses and their associated gaming money spinners.
1. Bugsy Siegel
Back in 1946, this famous New York mobster opened the Flamingo Hotel, which was a major casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Unfortunately for Bugsy, his endeavor only lasted for seven months, as he was gunned down by his associates in July the next year. Still, while he was alive, Siegel was not the kind of person you would want to play games with.
2. Frank Costello
A famous Chicago mobster who run the Tropicana Hotel & Casino along with his pal Lou Lederer back in the sixties. The pair was notorious for their strong grip and decisive methods, and no one would dare double-cross them under any circumstances.
3. Frank Rosenthal
Known as Lefty, Rosenthal was famous for his sports betting prowess, but also well known as a member of the Mafia. Frank died in 2008 but before that he was well known for running Stardust, Fremont, and Hacienda from behind the scenes. While this was not official, pretty much everyone in Vegas knew that if you make trouble at these casinos, you are in trouble with Lefty, and no one wanted that.
Also, apparently, if you didn’t want trouble – you didn’t actually call him Lefty.
He has been immortalized by the 1995 Martin Scorcese film Casino, which was based on his career.
4. Meyer Lansky
Not exactly a mob boss, Lansky was still a very important figure in the organized crime circles. Known as the Mob’s Accountant, Lansky was famous for helping Charles “Lucky” Luciano with the development of the organized crime in Las Vegas. He was never convicted of any serious crimes, and his involvement with the casino business made him millions.
Still, before he died, he seems to have lost his entire estate, leaving his family with just $10.000.
5. Tony Spilotro
Another Chicago-born mobster who moved to Las Vegas to run the casino business, Spilotro became a representative of the Mafia in the sixties. He acted as one of the key men in Las Vegas in the seventies and eighties but was later killed by his associates in 1986. During his time in Vegas, he was feared by everyone, but his reign came to an end when others decided they wanted his job.
6. Al Capone
Easily the most famous mobster of all times, Capone was feared by the mafia, the police, and the general public. In his fight for control over casino haven Atlantic City, Capone even ordered the murder of seven soldiers in Chicago and committed many other atrocities. Al Capone was certainly one man in the business you would never want to mess with.
7. Anthony Zerilli
Born in 1927, Tony was an underboss of the Detroit Partnership, and he spent many of his years as a mafia member in Las Vegas, where he tried to spread his influence over the city.
Unfortunately for Zerilli, his efforts were not very successful as his partner was arrested, but while he was in Vegas, he was a figure to be respected and not played around with.
He died in 2015.
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