Las Vegas was the Mob’s greatest venture and most spectacular success, and through 40 years of frenzy, murder, deceit, scams, and skimming, the FBI listened on phone taps and did virtually nothing to stop the fun. This is the truth about Vegas and the casinos like you’ve never heard before. Two of the nation’s most powerful crime family heads went to prison in the 1930’s, Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano. Frank Nitti took over the Chicago Outfit while, Frank Costello ran things for the Luciano Family.
Both men were influenced by their bosses from prison, and both sent enough gangsters onto the streets to influence loan sharking, extortion, union control, and drug sales. Bugsy Siegel worked for both groups, handling a string of murders and opening up gaming on the west coast, and that included Las Vegas, an oasis of sin in the middle of the desert – and it was legal. Most of it. The famous casinos of Las Vegas like the Stardust, Sands, and Flamino are well-chronicled here.
The FBI watched as the Mob took control of casino after casino, killed off the competition, and stole enough money to bribe their way to respectability back home. By the 1950’s, nearly every major crime family had a stake in a Las Vegas casino. Some did better than others. Casino owners watched-over their profits while competing crime families eyed each others success like jealous lovers. Murder often followed.
The book Nevada's Golden Age of Gambling 1931-1981 is the first book to intertwine old photos with actual stories of how Nevada's casinos started. With 71 vintage photos, the book underscores the first fifty years of Nevada's legalized casino industry with stories from Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe and Carson City. This book brings the reader closer to what it was like in the casinos of the 1930's and beyond. Chapters include stories on gamblers like Bill Harrah, "Pappy" Smith of Harold's Club, Bill Graham and even Howard Hughes. Buy Direct
3. Mr. Mob
Mr. Mob' The Life and Crimes of Moe Dalitz is a detailed, comprehensive look at Las Vegas casino owner and mob boss Moe Dalitz. Although the book covers Dalitz' whole life, much of author Michael Newton's work chronicles Dalitz' rise from a common street thug and rum runner to the most powerful man in the Nevada casino industry of the 1950's and 1960's. Buy Direct
The book The Roots of Reno tells the story of how the town of Reno grew into "The Biggest Little City in the World" under the watchful eye and iron fist of George Wingfield and his partners, Nick Abelman, Bill Graham, and Jim McKay.
Reno was truly Hell on Wheels in the 1920’s. The rest of the nation considered the town Sodom and Gomorra, but that’s only half the truth. Reno offered everything in the way of adult entertainment, from speakeasy’s and houses of ill-repute, to open gaming – legal or not. And it took plenty of sins by the founding fathers to make Reno “The biggest little city in the world.”
When the gold-veins of Tonopah and Goldfield ran out, the casino owners moved to Reno, where even greater riches awaited. Together, a group of four men (Nick Abelman, Bill Graham, Jim McKay, George Wingfield) took over Reno’s casinos and held sway over the town for the next three decades. Together they administered policy, collected juice, ran politicians, and owned the red-light district and most of the town’s casinos.
When that wasn’t enough they took over the banks and laundered money for crooks like “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Alvin Karpis, and Ma Barker’s boys, and offered safety to “Baby Face” Nelson. It was a good gig.
The Reno Four dictated policy all over Northern Nevada, taking special care of Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos up until the late 1950’s. Their influence made Reno before Bill Harrah or “Pappy” Smith ever arrived, needing an introduction and permission to build their own casinos, Harold’s Club and Harrah’s.
The history (with photos) of famous casinos such as the Cal-Neva, Crystal Bay Club, Stateline Country Club, Riverside, Bank Club and the Ship and Bottle is brought back to life in this 250-page book. Buy Direct
The Players - The Men Who Made Las Vegas is a group of short biographies about the casino industry's most powerful and influential owners. Jack Sheehan edited this group of fourteen chapters about early Las Vegas, its first and most powerful casino owners, and some of the men, like Steve Wynn, who have a continuing influence on how the city grows and is seen by the rest of the world. Buy Direct
6. Slot Machines - A Pictorial History of the First 100 Years
Marshall Fey's Slot Machines is not about casinos in the strictest sense, however, the expansion of casinos and the changing of the guard from table-games to slot machines as the workhorse of the industry is quite evident.
Slot Machines - A Pictorial History of the First 100 Years is now in its Fifth Edition. The first "reel" style slot machine was produced by Charles Fey in San Francisco over 100 years ago. His grandson, Marshall Fey, produced this wonderful book as a tribute not just to his grandfather, but to the ingenuity of the early slot manufacturers like Watling, Mills, Jennings, Caille, Pace and Bally.
The book is huge, 9x12, and runs 250 pages with 630 photographs. There is more about the expansion of slot machines from simple bar-top amusement devices to the main-stay of current day casino revenue producer than in any other book about slot machines, and no other book has anywhere near the breadth of this one. Buy Direct