It’s no secret that the success of Las Vegas was heavily influenced by some of the most notorious criminals and gangsters in the USA. Without their interference, this city as we know it wouldn’t exist. In the Internet era, when you find a $20 deposit casino online to play around every corner, it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, things were handled completely differently. Land-based casinos were considered taboo and gambling a serious vice. But is the mafia still controlling Las Vegas casinos? Let’s see what we know for sure.

Popular Las Vegas Casinos Led By The Gangsters

Nowadays most of us use our search bars to look for top rated online casinos and enjoy games. However, back in the days, you knew which land-based venue in Las Vegas is the best only by its reputation. And most of these were owned by gangsters. Some of the most popular and famous casinos that were in connection to the mafia were:

Las Vegas Boulevard

The Sands






Due to numerous films like The Godfather and Bugsy, many people believe that Flamingo was the first gangster-related casino. But, the truth is that at the beginning of the 1930s, Frenk Detra, who was a known friend of Al Capone, moved to Las Vegas and started a casino on Highway 91 called Las Vegas Boulevard.

Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo made history, but they also inspired many other mobsters to do the same. That’s how two mob-backed venues opened – Thunderbird and Desert Inn. The Flamingo was the first gaming resort in Las Vegas. It opened on Boxing Day, in 1946. It was the perfect way for the mafia to have a legal and lucrative business. The bright lights, fun games, and the idea of an escape from reality attracted customers from all over the USA. What was once an empty desert town was turning into a grand tourist attraction, known by people worldwide. Moreover, the 70s movies that openly tied the mafia to these casinos, seem to have only boosted the interest of the public.

Famous Gangsters That Were Ahead of a Casino in Las Vegas

There were several famous gangsters that had started their business in Las Vegas:

Frank Costello

Lucky Luciano

Meyer Lansky

Benjamin Siegel

The most famous of all is certainly Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. In the late 1930s, he was committing atrocious crimes in Hollywood in order to establish dominance over the local gangsters. He arrived in Las Vegas in the 1940s. And together with his main financial advisor Meyer Lansky, set his mind to convert the city into a mob paradise.

Modern Las Vegas

These days there are still those that remember that time when Las Vegas was ruled over by the gangsters. Some even yearn for the cheap food and drinks, ignoring all the other troubles of that era. However, in the 80s most of these mobsters were placed under arrest, and now casinos in Las Vegas are owned by multi-billion dollar companies that have to follow every rule and regulation and avoid being shut down. Also, Las Vegas is full of family-friendly hotel resorts, that many choose as their go-to vacation destination. However, due to the nature of the business, there are still those who believe in the myth that the mafia is still present among the casino owners.

In Conclusion

Who knows how would Las Vegas look like today if gangsters haven’t set their eyes on it. Even though the mafia days are long gone, no one can deny their contribution to making Las Vegas into the great city that it is today.


Frankie Wilde
Latest posts by Frankie Wilde (see all)