Gambling, the Mafia and Hollywood—'People are Gonna Gamble!'

Discussion in 'Lets Talk about gambling and more...' started by Marina, May 9, 2014.

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  1. Marina

    Marina Administrator Staff Member

    "People are gonna drink! You know that, I know that, we all know that, and all I do is act on that. And all this talk of bootlegging—what is bootlegging?
    On a boat, it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality. I'm a businessman!"

    The famous Capone/Robert de Niro quote from the 1987 Hollywood movie The Untouchables bring to mind images of gangsters in 3-piece suits, riding in limos and staying in
    luxurious hotels, and yes, watching over casinos overflowing with red-eyed gamblers. The movie also triggered a spate of mobster flicks that did roaring business.
    The Casino, Good Fellas, Bugsy, and a number of other films featured gambling as one of the main themes. Even the more recent Casino Royale has its climax played around a game of cards.

    Hollywood's obsession with mobsters and gambling is not without a historical background. Gambling has always been the backbone of the Mafia's business.
    The first gambling resort of Las Vegas—The Flamingo—was the brainchild of Bugsy Siegel, the Mafioso from New York. It was built with Mafia money raised by Siegel,
    who was eventually assassinated for siphoning money from the construction funds into his own accounts.

    The Flamingo was taken over by Lansky, Bugsy's partner and a Jewish mobster who ran gambling across the United States in the 1930s and '40s.
    Under him, The Flemingo became a huge success and Las Vegas became the hot favorite investment venture for the mob. The story of Bugsy Siegel has been well told in the movie Bugsy.

    Before the state of Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, the Mafia still ran gambling dens across America. Police officers and law enforcement agencies were on the payrolls of the mobsters and
    turned a blind eye to the illegal gambling activity. However, people who wanted to have a blast of a time and complete freedom had to travel all the way to Cuba. Las Vegas was going to change that.

    After The Flamingo opened in 1946, the Mafia Families suddenly became aware of the huge opportunity and began pumping money into other casinos. In 1950, the Chicago Mobsters joined hands
    with the New York crowd and opened three famous casinos—the Stardust, the Desert Inn, and the Riviera. In the 1960s, they had opened another three high-profile gambling ventures in Las Vegas.
    The Mafia was minting money in Vegas, but their high flight was stalled in the 1960s and they were forced out of Las Vegas by one man—the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

    "So you want me to bribe senators?" Jack Frye asks Howard Hughes in the 2004 movie The Aviator. Hughes replies, "I don’t want them bribed, Jack. I want it done legally. I want them bought."

    Whatever Hughes did, he was able to get the senators to make a major amendment to the gambling laws. The state of Nevada made it illegal for corporations to hold stakes in hotels,
    casinos and resorts. Hughes himself bought 17 casino resorts and drove out the Mafia from them. He didn’t stay in the casino business for long and sold his resorts a few years later.
    The mob returned to Vegas in the '70s, but their days were numbered this time.

    The FBI uprooted the Mafia from Las Vegas in the 1980s and sold the casinos to legitimate owners. Under the new management, Las Vegas was turned into a themed city for an entertaining family vacation.

    The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas continues to inspire Hollywood into making movies like the 2013 Last Vegas or the 2009 Hangover.
    The Mafia still runs illegal gambling rings, and there are reports coming in from time to time about busts and arrests in different states.
    Many of the mobsters might have moved to the Caribbean, running online gambling websites, which continue to be illegal in the United States.
    Ellis likes this.
  2. Ellis

    Ellis Well-Known Member

    Great Article Marina!
    Marina likes this.

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