Mobs and Mafias

The Best Casino Mobster TV Shows

August 16, 2017 • By

TV is considered by many to be the ultimate medium. It’s the perfect way to tell a story and explore characters over numerous hours and seasons. There is much broader scope for television than there is in movies, and this is one of the reasons TV has made such a resurgence. In fact, many people feel we are living in a golden age of television again, and it’s difficult to argue.

With shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, and True Detective out there, TV has never been more healthy. And there are plenty of shows that document the exploits of the mob in casinos. Don’t think that’s simply limited to the likes of Hollywood and Martin Scorsese. Here are a few of the best casino mobster TV shows we’ve ever seen.

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire was one of the finest crime shows released in the last decade. Terence Winter’s show is set in the Prohibition-era, and it follows the life and career of fictionalised criminal kingpin Nucky Thompson. The show is packed full of everything you’d imagine from a casino mobster show: betrayal, love, lust, and plenty of gambling. Steve Buscemi plays the role of Nucky, and it’s probably the best performance he’s ever given as an actor. The show might be based in Atlantic City rather than Vegas, but it’s still a great look at a criminal operation involving casinos.

The Sopranos

Often cited as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, The Sopranos is an epic, sprawling masterpiece of television. Yes, it’s not based around the casino scene, but it is an all-encompassing look at a powerful crime family and the way they operate. You have everything here from casino to bars, to strip joints, to drugs. The show is not for the faint-hearted, but it remains one of the best shows we’ve ever seen, and it’s definitely recommended.

Vegas

Vegas was a period drama released several years ago, and starring Michael Chiklis and Dennis Quaid. It was created by writer Nicholas Pileggi, who also wrote Casino and Goodfellas. The show follows a cat and mouse game between Quaid’s Sheriff and Chiklis’ mob boss who moved to the Vegas area to run operations. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after just one season, but it is one of the most interesting and riveting crime shows we’ve seen.


Mobs and Mafias

The Top 5 Casino Mobster Books

July 9, 2017 • By

The mob is thought of as being aggressive drug barons who carry out racketeering and assassinations in the interests of money and power, and perhaps that’s true, who knows? However, they weren’t always known for such things; in fact, way back when, the mob were linked with the Vegas casino scene. In fact, many credit them with founding the Vegas we know and love today. Here are the top 5 books we recommend you read about casino mobsters.

30 Illegal Years to the Strip – Bill Friedman

This 2015 book looks at the real-life founding of the Vegas strip, and how mobsters like Al Capone, Frank Costello, and Ben Siegel created their own slice of paradise. Bill Friedman’s book explores the three decades it took these gangsters to build a gambling utopia where they could profit from the results. But it starts with Prohibition and covers how and why the mob went the casino route, and who the major players were. This is a riveting and captivating read and one we certainly recommend you pick up.

Casino – Nicholas Pileggi

Often considered the Godfather of casino mobster fiction, Nicholas Pileggi’s unflinching look at the seedy underbelly of the Vegas mob is a harrowing read. If you’ve seen the movie it’s based on, with Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci, you’ll know what we mean. It’s the ultimate cautionary tale, and also shows exactly how the mob bit off more than they could chew when it came to the Vegas casinos. Though it’s a fictional novel many claim the book to have a lot of factual information in it.

The Rise and Fall of a Casino Mobster – Dennis N. Griffin & Frank Cullotta

If you’ve not heard of this book before, we suggest you get it for your Kindle as soon as possible. The book is an account of the rise, fall, and eventual death of casino mobster Tony Spilotro, who built the mob’s casino empire. The book is written by author Dennis N. Griffin, and Spilotro’s close friend Frank Cullotta. It’s an interesting and in-depth looks at the life of a mob boss, and how the quest for power and wealth led to the downfall of one of the most famous mobsters ever.

Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas – Geoff Schumacher

A riveting look at the eras that shaped Sin City, and the thriving casino hotspot we all know today. In darker times, the mob ruled everything, and this was a stomping ground for numerous casino mobsters. The book looks back at the history of Vegas and its links to organised crime. But, the other interesting thing is that it gives us a balance looking at what Vegas is like now, and how the city has coped with economic and social changes.

Mr. Capone: The Real and Completed Story of Al Capone – Robert J. Schoenberg

Autobiographies are always more interesting than biographies. However, when it comes to casino mobsters, it’s pretty difficult to expect an autobiography when most of them are dead. Luckily, we have authors like Robert J. Schoenberg who can give us great biographies like this one on Al Capone. Here Schoenberg details Capone’s early years and how he got his break in the mob. It also explores his run-ins with the law and his eventual demise. It’s a fascinating portrayal of perhaps the world’s most famous gangster.


Mobs and Mafias

The Top 5 Casino Mobster Movies

June 16, 2017 • By

Mobster movies are brilliant. For two hours or so we can sit there and envelope ourselves in the thrill of spending money, we don’t have, killing the bad guys (most of the time), drinking too much alcohol with seemingly no effect and partaking in some car chases too. There’s a lot of casino mobster movies out there but if you want some idea of where to start, here are the top five that you absolutely have to watch.

Casino

Without a shadow of a doubt, ‘Casino’ is one of the all-time best films ever, let alone the best casino mobster film. It comes from the genius of a mind that belongs to award winning director, Martin Scorsese, and also happens to have a star-studded cast list too, including the likes of Joe Pesci, Sharon Stone, and Robert De Niro. With action and drama from start to finish, ‘Casino’ will keep you on the edge of your seats for the entire movie, never knowing what’s going to play out next.

Bugsy

If you hear the name Bugsy and think of Bugsy Malone, then you need to watch this film; afterward, Bugsy Malone will be replaced in your mind with the original Bugsy, Bugsy Siegal. The film depicts his relationship with Virginia Hill, from start to finish, which all began in Vegas. There’s shoot ups and lock downs, too much drinking and a lot of gambling. The entire movie holds the same structure of a classic mobster meeting, just with the added joy of being all about casinos and gambling too.

Oceans 11

No, no, no. Not the Oceans 11 from a few years back, although that is also a great film. We’re talking about the original Oceans 11 film, released all the way back in 1960. The film has an epic cast that features five different rat pack members; Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and, of course, Frank Sinatra. The movie tells the story of how a team of World War 2 soldiers are gathered together by Danny Ocean, in order to be able to take on the biggest gambling heist ever planned…in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world.

Goodfellas

The film was so good, a pizza company took its title for their branding. On a serious note though, Goodfellas is a casino mobster movie of epic proportions. Based on a novel titled ‘Wise Guy,’ Goodfellas is another work of art directed by Martin Scorsese that also features some incredible acting from Robert De Niro. The film depicts one gangster’s journey to the top of the heap until he’s the most famous mobster around, making more money than he could have ever dreamed of, but it also tells just how quickly this can be torn away from you following things such as drug addiction.

The Cooler

Sometimes consider a casino mobster film and sometimes considered to be more of a romantic drama, The Cooler is one of the more recent casino mobster films to make it into our top five. Starring the likes of superstar actors Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, and Estella Warren, the story takes place in a classic looking Las Vegas casino, and is all about the life of a ‘cooler’- someone who is employed by a casino to put an end to people’s winning streaks. Tense and gripping, this film will keep you on your toes from start to finish.


Mobs and Mafias

Movies Based on Casino Mobsters

May 5, 2017 • By

Movies are a great way of telling stories, and understanding the history behind important events. It’s fair to say that casinos and Las Vegas are a huge part of the history of the United States, and that’s why there are a lot of films made about them. In fact, some of the best films ever made are gangster movies, and you definitely need to check some of these out.

Some of the best gangster films are based on the lives of casino mobsters. These often give an unflinching look at what Vegas was like under mob rule. They are often brutal and violent movies, showing a realistic side of the gangster/casino world. Here are a few of the best movies based on casino mobsters.

Casino

Perhaps the most famous movie based on the life of a casino mobster is Martin Scorsese’s 1995 violent mob masterpiece Casino. Starring Robert De Niro as Sam Rothstein. The movie is based loosely on the life of Frank Rosenthal, who ran Vegas casinos including Hacienda and Stardust. Joe Pesci plays a character based on mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro. The movie received huge critical acclaim, and was a box office success, even resulting in a Golden Globe Award for Sharon Stone.

Bugsy

Another well-known movie about casino mobsters is the 1990 biopic Bugsy about the life and death of Bugsy Siegel. Warren Beatty plays Siegel, the man largely credited with beginning the mob involvement in Vegas. Siegel had big plans and ambitions, but they wound up getting the better of him, and he started to skim off the top. This led to his eventual assassination and increased Vegas mob activity. The film was critically acclaimed and serves as both an appraisal and a cautionary tale.

Gangster Squad

You may even have seen the more recent movie Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling. It also stars Sean Penn as legendary mob gangster Mickey Cohen. While the film focuses mainly on Cohen’s criminal activity as a whole, he was still a big player in the mob days of Las Vegas. In fact, he was known for working under Siegel and helping set up The Flamingo. The movie shows the formation of a gangster squad, set up by the police in order to bring down mobsters, including Cohen. Though the movie only touches upon his gambling affairs, it’s still worth seeing as a glimpse of the story of Mickey Cohen.  


Mobs and Mafias

How Las Vegas Was Built by Casino Mobsters

April 11, 2017 • By

Vegas. The City of Sin. America’s Playground. We all know the legend of Las Vegas and how many see it as the city of second chances. It lacks soul and character, and it’s basically just a neon monument to consumerism, but there’s no doubting that it’s impressive. But, have you ever wondered how we got from the Vegas that was to the Vegas that is?

 

A lot of it was down to the influence of the mob. Some say that the mob still has roots in Vegas today, but this is unsubstantiated. What we do know is that they certainly built this empire and helped it to become what it is today. Let’s look a little further into this story, and find out how Las Vegas was built by casino mobsters.

 

We go all the way back to 1946, where criminals were flourishing in post-war America. Though lots of gangsters were involved in the inner workings of hotels and casinos, none actually owned any. But all this changed when Bugsy Siegel, and his friend Meyer Lansky, made a decision to build The Flamingo. this became the first mob-owned casino and set in motion a movement in Vegas.

 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though, as it turned out Bugsy was skimming off the top. This led to infighting and the rest of the mob distrusting Siegel. Eventually, he was gunned down at his home in 1947, but his impact on Vegas would endure.

 

Looking at the example Siegel had set with The Flamingo, a lot of gangsters saw Vegas as a pot of money. And, as such, many other crime hotels began to spring up all over the Vegas strip. Places such as the Sahara, the Sands, and The Riviera. These were frequented by stars including Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby and showed the grip the mob had on Vegas in the early years.

 

Eventually, the strength of mob activity did not go unnoticed by the powers that be. It didn’t take long for the mob involvement to catch the attention of the authorities. And this led, indirectly, to the casino and gambling regulations we have today.

 

It also led to state gambling regulators enforcing what was known as their List of Excluded Persons. This was a list of people who were not allowed in casinos, in order to curb the mob influence. But, it turned out that reclusive businessman Howard Hughes was the one who really got the ball rolling. He bought some of the casinos from the mob and set about cleaning them up. It’s fair to say Hughes helped the transition between the mob-run Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas we have today.

 


Mobs and Mafias

The Top 7 Online Casino Crimes

March 10, 2017 • By

Anyone with interest in casinos will be aware that they often fall foul of crime. There is so much money in casinos at any one time that they are a clear target for criminals. In fact, anyone using online casinos and games is going to be at risk from crime, especially online. There are a lot of reasons why this could happen, but, one of the main ones is that we underestimate the power of cyber crime these days.

 

Many people think it won’t happen to them or assume that the casinos or games they’re playing run on a secure server. However, this is often when they are the most vulnerable to criminal activities. You have to make sure you do whatever you can to avoid online scams and traps, and that you keep yourself and your money scam-free. Here are seven things you need to keep your eyes peeled for, and be sure to avoid.

 

Phone Calls

 

Mobile gaming is hugely popular these days, but it’s important to be diligent. There are so many scams out there pertaining to mobile gaming. One of the best-known is when people download a game to their phones that contain a code which secretly dials long-distance numbers. Imagine receiving a crazy expensive phone bill for calls you didn’t even make! Be aware of exactly what games you are downloading, and research them thoroughly first. It’s not worth the hassle of downloading something that risks corrupting your device.

 

Social Media Credits

 

Social media sites play a massive role in our lives these days, and you need to look out for games that incorporate social media. One of the biggest scams these days exploits users playing social networking games that involve collecting credits. Players will receive so-called emails or special offers saying that they will earn free credits for viewing ads etc. Of course, this isn’t actually the case people will be charged a monthly fee for their trouble. Be careful and always make sure you read the fine print before signing up for anything.

 

Downloads Scam

 

Always be conscious of what you are downloading, especially when gaming. There are so many offers and options for online games these days. And package deals where players can pay a one-off fee for unlimited access to games is appealing. But, scammers have taken advantage of this surge, and, as a result, have begun to trick a lot of gamers. Con artists are offering fees for unlimited downloads of games for popular consoles like Xbox. However, all they actually provide are links to dodgy torrent sites. Steer clear!

 

Online Casinos

 

We all know how popular gaming at a casino online is these days, but, with it comes risks. Because of the regulation in place for online gaming, it leaves players susceptible to cons sometimes. For instance, many players have to channel their money through a third party, and sometimes play on casinos outside of their home country. Many of these are genuine and legitimate, but some are not. So you need to be careful that your money and private information is not being used or exploited. Make sure you only use reputable casinos, and always reads other people’s reviews and experiences first.

 

Phishing

 

Phishing is the practice of obtaining sensitive and private information through nefarious means. And this is something you are genuinely at risk from with any sort of online gaming. But, that shouldn’t put you off; it simply means you need to be more careful about what you do. Phishing via online games is hard to spot because it’s often within the game. For instance, you may receive an email asking for a password change, only to log in and find you are blocked from your account. The scammers will use the opportunity to download your credits or virtual money within a game and sell it online. This is something that happens a lot with MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft.

 

Virtual Assets

 

That brings us to the next scam which is similar to phishing. This is the sale of virtual assets online. Sometimes you want to bolster or increase your chances in a game by buying online credits for your account immediately. The problem is that much of the time the credits you can buy or trade with people are usually stolen. Worse than that, they may not even exist sometimes! So, don’t even think of doing this sort of business. Instead, make sure you play the games properly and build up your own credits over time.

 

Video Game Testing

 

It sounds amazing, right? Getting paid to sit at home all day and play video games! Well, the basic rule applies here that if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it is. This is one of the classic “work from home” scam jobs. Where victims are told that they can earn hundred of dollars testing video games. You won’t be paid. It’s a scam. Ignore it, and try to get a job like this the old-fashioned way.  

 


Mobs and Mafias

The Rise of Online Casino Criminals

January 24, 2017 • By

The internet has been a marvellous invention for everybody. It has permitted people to make new friends and get in touch with old friends. It has revolutionised how we do business, shop, bank and play games. For the gambling industry, it has been a boon, with new websites like Slots Magic gaining rapid popularity daily. However, the massive growth of online casinos has one downside in the growth of online casino criminals. The opportunity to gamble has gone hand in hand with the opportunities for online crime.

Organised Crime and Gambling

Legal gambling is strictly regulated in the countries where it is permitted. The USA is one of those countries with strict regulations. In December 2015, the US Department of Justice released a report into the state of online illegal gambling. The US government has strong evidence to support that online casino crime does not exist in a bubble, but that it is part of the underworld of organised crime. Internet gambling has permitted organised criminals easier and more diverse methods to expand their operations.

Unlicensed gambling

Another type of online casino criminals are unlicensed website. The organisers may or may not have links to other organised criminal activity. These are often set up as seemingly legitimate businesses. However, as they are unlicensed, they are also unregulated. For the player there is little chance of winning. These unlicensed sites are usually fronts for money laundering operations. In a report in 2015, the US Department of Justice highlighted a number of high profile cases of websites shut down and their organisers jailed.

Scams and Scammers

With illegal online gambling, the potential for the public to become a victim of a scam is now much greater than it ever was. It is easy and cheap to create a glossy website and make it look legitimate. Criminals realise that all they need is the appearance of respectability and the curious player will sign up with their personal details. Once the bank account, credit card or other payment method is entered, scammers can spend away. The best type of online gambling to prevent scammers is bitcoin gambling. This is because it is almost impossible to fraudulate the bitcoin currency, just because of how it works.

Identity Fraud

Similar to the scammers who take illegally take money from credit card and bank accounts, these same individuals may also be involved in identity fraud. All it takes is a simple website claiming to be an online casino (or a discount site or a portal to new games with lots of prizes) and then using those personal details to apply for credit cards, driver’s licenses and other things. Fraudsters will also share these illegally held details amongst others in the criminal fraternity.

Money Laundering

The biggest problem associated with online casino crime is money laundering, It is just one front for the criminals, but because of the growth of legal online gambling, criminals have spotted a great avenue to launder money. McAfee estimates that there are around 25,000 legal gambling sites in the world with more opening and closing every day. The problem is not the number of sites, but the volume of transactions that take place every day. With the addition of Bitcoin as a paying method the potential is even greater. It is believed that the same people behind online casino crime is also behind the malware known as Ransomware.


Mobster Profiles

RANKED: The Worst Casino Mobsters in the World

December 31, 2016 • By

 

We all know that crime and money go hand in hand, and that’s why so many mobsters get caught up in gambling. Many of the mob operated casinos in Vegas from the mid-1930s onward. Here is a list of some of the most notorious casino mobsters from that time. We bet you’ll recognise some of these names!

12. Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal

Frank is perhaps best known as the basis for the character Robert De Niro played in hit movie Casino. Rosenthal actually managed four casinos throughout his life; one was The Stardust.

11. Tony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro

Another guy who was immortalised on celluloid is Tony Spilotro. One of the most famous casino mobsters, he was the basis for Joe Pesci’s psychotic Nicky Santoro (also in Casino). Spilotro met a nearly identical death to Santoro’s in the film too!

10. Frank Costello

Costello rose through the ranks of Italian crime family the Luciano’s. He was a respected and feared mobster, involved in all sorts of schemes, including casinos. He also survived an attempted hit organised by the man he succeeded, Vito Genovese.

9. Geri McGee

Gera was married to Frank Rosenthal and was portrayed by Sharon Stone in the movie Casino. She was a casino showgirl and lived with a debilitating drug habit. She eventually died of an overdose in 1982. It’s also known that Geri had an affair with Frank’s pal Tony Spilotro.

8. David Berman

Also known as ‘Davie the Jew’, Berman became influential when the mob took Vegas. He is known to have worked at The Flamingo under Bugsy Siegel. Unlike most mobsters, Dave met a more natural end. He died of complications during surgery to remove colon polyps.

7. Charles Baron

Charles ‘Babe’ Baron was another of those active in the Chicago mob scene. He represented the mob interest in Vegas casinos and was a known associate of Capone. He was another who would spend many years working in the casinos, and line his pockets embezzling money.

6. Louis ‘Lepke’ Buchalter

Louis was born in 1897 and ended up heading the infamous Murder, Inc. hit squad. He turned to crime as a teen, and never looked back. He and friend Jacob Shapiro founded the hit squad to take care of mob kills. He met his inevitable end when he was convicted for drug trafficking and murder. He received the death penalty via execution in 1944.

5. Meyer Lansky

Meyer was one of Bugsy Siegel’s childhood pals, and the two ran The Flamingo together. Lansky was the money man working behind the scenes, and making sure everyone “got theirs”. There are rumours that the two fell out, and Lansky arranged Siegel’s death, though this is unknown.

4. Marshall Caifano

Marshall was one of the most feared hit men in Chicago and travelled to Vegas under Paul Ricca. The trained boxer was implicated in many murders, but it was the black market that got him a jail conviction.

3. The Hole in the Wall Gang

The infamous Hole in the Wall Gang sounds like a Wild West mob of vigilantes. In reality, they were a mob outfit headed by Tony Spilotro and his brother Micky. They got their name as burglars where they would drill into ceilings and walls. It all unravelled, and Tony and Micky were brutally executed by the mob.

2. Bugsy Siegel

Bugsy was influenced by Al Capone’s idea to move the mob to Vegas and take advantage of the money there. He was instrumental in bringing the mob together to run The Flamingo, which was the first ever mob run casino in Vegas

1. Al Capone

The original godfather of gangsters everywhere. He was one of the most successful and feared mobsters of the Prohibition era. He was implicated in a lot of crimes, including murder, but was finally sent down for 11 years for tax evasion.

 


Mobs and Mafias

The Truth About The Movie Casino

September 1, 2016 • By

Everybody knows that any film “inspired by actual events” takes a fair amount of artistic license. The 1990s mob movie Casino starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone was a massive hit. Here, we look at the facts behind the fiction of the people, places and events.

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Mobster Profiles

David Berman

August 6, 2016 • By

When it comes to the mob’s influence on the Las Vegas gambling scene David Berman aka “Davie the Jew” is considered one of the pioneers. He and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel had operated the Flamingo Las Vegas.

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