The Most Dangerous Casino Mafia In History
Bugsy Siegel is one of America’s most notorious mobsters that was single handedly responsible for several murders, illegal gambling operations, bootlegging operations and even prostitution rings. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was born in 1906 in Brooklyn, New York and he died at the age of 47 when he was shot at the Beverly Hills residence of his then girlfriend, Virginia Hill.
Siegel was known to be a bit of a good-looking philanderer who wasn’t only easy on the eyes, but also had a charismatic personality. Siegel has his hands everywhere, not only was he a key figure in Jewish mobs, but was also had connections within the Italian – American mafia and even the Italian – Jewish National Crime Syndicate.
During the prohibition, Siegel operated mostly as a big shot bootlegger and dealt illegal booze among other things. However, Siegel stepped into illegal gambling and casinos only after the prohibition was lifted and his boot legging was no more as profitable. Even though he was a mastermind behind many operations and crime rings, Siegel was mostly a hit man who knew his way around guns and did not shy away from violence. In the year 1936, Siegel moved away from New York to California.
He frequented Las Vegas, Nevada where he then took his illegal gambling business to the next level. He invested in and managed many of the original casinos. In fact, the Las Vegas strip as we know it today, was shaped and initially sparked by Siegel and his associates.
During his early days, Siegel’s introduction to crime started off simultaneously as his friendship with Meyer Lansky, also known as Meyer Mob, started to blossom. Meyer Mob was the kingpin of a small group of mobsters who were mainly into grand theft auto, larceny and all sorts of illegal gambling operations. Meyer Mob began this gang when he identified that there was no Jewish gang in his neighborhood like how there was an Italian gang and an Irish Gang.
Siegel became one of Meyer Mob’s very first recruits and he served as the hit man and muscle of the group for the most part. It was this exposure to illegal gambling and other criminal operations which gave Siegel the experience and the knowledge which later manifested into he-himself becoming a big shot kingpin and casino owner who was known and feared all across the country.
Siegel loved the lavish life, loved to be a womanizer, loved the nightlife, flashy clothes, swanky houses and flashy cars. However, he also had a reputation for being downright fearless. In an interview with biographers, one of his fellow mobsters, Joseph “Doc” Stacher, had told biographers that Siegel was one of the most fearless men he knew and on one occasion had even saved the lives of his gang members. While everyone was wondering how to cope with an attack, Siegel supposedly would already be all guns blazing.
It was in the late 30’s that Siegel’s life was really under threat and he moved to the east coast. This is when his involvement with casinos really got some traction. His objective during his Californian years was to develop and strengthen syndicate – sanctioned gambling rackets along with Jack Dragna, a Los Angeles family boss.
In the early forties, Siegel and his bookmaking efforts were said to be pulling in a staggering amount of money in the order of nearly half a million a day, which for the forties is really a ludicrous amount. Seigel also had connections with politicians, businessmen, industrial tycoons, attorneys, accountants and lobbyists. In December 1946 Siegel opened The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a cost of $6 million, which was once again, more than an absurd sum in those days.
It was on 20th June, 1947 that Siegel breathed his last breath. He was in his girlfriend’s residence in Beverley Hills and was accompanied by his associate Allen Smith when an assailant shot him multiple times with a .30 caliber. He took two bullets to the head and several more elsewhere in his body and pretty much died on the spot. To this day, nobody has been charged with his murder and the killing remains an unsolved mystery.
Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal
Frank Lawrence Rosenthal lived a life so eventful that his life was depicted in Martin Scorsese’s film Casino. Rosenthal was many things, a husband, a father, a professional gambler, an entrepreneur, and when required – a ruthless mobster.
Rosenthal spent his early years learning sports betting in the west side of Chicago. It is said that he would frequently cut class to go partake in sports betting and witness sporting events. From his younger days itself, Rosenthal had a knack for being able to seek out excellent sports bets and make good money in the process. His eye for detail and talent landed him a job with the Chicago outfit. Fast forward a few years and Rosenthal was running the biggest illegal bookmaking operation in the country and worked for the American Mafia.
Even though he was charged and tried on many occasions for illegal gambling and several other charges, it was only once that he was actually convicted. Rosenthal could not care for licenses and regulations and was discovered to have been running multiple casinos without holding a single license.
Rosenthal was the first person to bring sports betting to the US. He was also the one who created the concept of female blackjack dealers which saw the incorporating casino almost double its blackjack driven profits.
Rosenthal survived a murder attempt in 1981 when he sat in his Cadillac Eldorado and it blew up. He is said to have survived the attack because of a manufacturing defect in his car.
In 2008, Rosenthal passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 79.