If it wasn’t for the mob, Las Vegas would be a very different kind of place. The casino mobsters changed the face of modern gambling – but who were they? Here, we list some of the most famous.
Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel
Al Capone was the first to float the idea of turning Las Vegas into a gambling haven from which the mafia could embezzle an endless stream of money – but he died before he could do anything about it. The man that made the first move was Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel.
Siegel brought Mafiosi across the country together in order to support and fund The Flamingo – Vegas’ very first mob-run casino. But he also embezzled so much money that the project cost 4 times its original budget. That move cost him his life.
Bugsy was the frontman for the Flamingo, but his childhood friend Meyer Lansky was the money man. He put up much of the cash, and as a well known numbers man, it wouldn’t have been easy to pull the wool over his eyes.
Lansky and Bugsy ran the Bugs-Meyer gang back in New York, and were the brains behind contract killing operation Murder Inc. Despite their history, many believe it was Lansky himself who arranged for Bugsy to meet his end.
Anthony ‘The Ant’ Spilotro
Nicknamed ‘The Ant’ because of his diminutive stature, Spilotro was the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in the 1995 film Casino.
A member of The Chicago Outfit, he was moved to Las Vegas in 1971 – and initially tasked with moving money back to Chicago. It wasn’t long before he was running the town – but he introduced a tax on criminal activity, which made him unpopular amongst the town’s other big players. He was in 1986 along with his brother – by a gang of twelve men.
A trained boxer, Caifano was one of the Chicago Outfit’s most feared hitmen. When Paul Ricca took Las Vegas from Bugsy Siegel, Caifano was installed as his overseer – and by the decade’s close Caifano was in charge.
Despite being the prime suspect for a vast number of killings, Caifano had an uncanny ability to make sure the evidence was never able to stick. He was, however, caught selling stock certificates on the black market – a charge he found it harder to wriggle out of. He was sent to prison in 1980.
Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal
A switched-on guy with a head for numbers, Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal made a name for himself in Chicago as a bookmaker who didn’t just set the odds, he also fixed the games. He moved to Vegas in the 1970s, and found himself running the Stardust Casino – until an attempt on his life forced him into retirement.
Born in a small Italian Village, Frank ‘The Prime Minster’ Costello worked his way up through the ranks of the Luciano crime family – running it himself from 1936. He had replaced Vito Genovese – who came back into the picture during the 1950s, and was determined to take back control of the family. After a hit ordered by Vito luckily failed, Frank reluctantly retired – handing control back to Genovese in 1957.