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The Nefarious History of Las Vegas

old_vegasWhat had been a desert town for GI’s being moved by train from East Coast to West Coast and vice versa during World War II became, within three years of the end of the war, one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world. There were two main reasons for this. The first was legalised gambling . The second was the arrival of the infamous gangster Benjamen “Bugsy” Siegel.

Gambling in Vegas was already legal when Bugsy Siegel arrived in but being situated in the middle of the Nevada Desert meant that the area was short on tourists to make the place pay any real dividends. Some say that another mobster and childhood friend of Bugsy, Meyer Lansky was the main driving force involved in getting Siegel to Nevada to explore the opportunities presented by legalised gambling others say that it was Siegel’s own vision. Either way it is Siegel’s arrival in Las Vegas that paved the gold lined road that led us to the growing metropolis that we have today.

Though many casinos in Las Vegas were demolished in the nineteen eighties to pave way for today’s mega casinos, the original casino still sits in prime position on the Las Vegas Strip. The world famous Flamingo was the hotel project built by Siegel and named after his longtime girlfriend Virginia Hill, whose nickname was “The Flamingo”.

Both Flamingos were a mixed blessing for Siegel as both arguably cost him his money and his life. Siegel didn’t have the necessary cash to build a casino on his own and it was their money that was being invested in order to build The Flamingo Hotel and casino.

Siegel’s insistence that he run the project personally inevitably ensured that there would be problems with the construction. He insisted on using only the most expensive materials and on paid exorbitant amounts of money on labour costs all the while pretending to his backers in organised crime that the project was proceeding smoothly.

Eventually the faceless gangsters sitting in New York became tired of Siegel’s wastage. When the Flamingo casino lost $275,000 in the first two weeks their patience came to an end. On June 20 1947 Benjamin Bugsy Siegel was shot four times. No one was ever caught for the crime.

Within months Siegel’s vision was proved correct as the Flamingo began raking in an enormous profit paving the way for more organised crime figures to move into the area with their own casinos making the city into the legendary playground for which it is now infamous.

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  1. Four Vegas Strip Casinos to Visit | Casino B Blog linked to this post on May 3, 2010

    […] The Vegas Strip is an area of Las Vegas bordered by Sahara Avenue on the north and Russell Road at the southern end. There are a number of hotel casinos on the Vegas Strip, and each one has something different to offer. There are also casinos that are not on the Vegas Strip, so there is quite a lot of selection. Here are some casinos that are worth checking out when you’re in Las Vegas. […]

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