Las Vegas in Nevada owes its success to the mobster Benjamin "Bugsy " Siegel, who organized gaming and bookmaking operation for the mob (the Mafia). Due to the crackdown on gambling in the eastern U.S.A, Siegel moved west in the 1940s. During the Great Depression, gambling had been legalized in Nevada to increase revenue for the state, but what existed in Las Vegas at that time were a few decidedly down-market casinos that were frequented by the locals.
Siegel planned to open a luxurious hotel where the rich and famous could gamble and, after a failed attempt to take over an existing casino , he decided to build his own . Once Siegel had managed to convince the Mob to invest in his idea, building started, but costs escalated from initial estimates of $ 1.2 million to over $ 6 million, because everyone, including Siegel, was stealing money from the project. It was rumored that the palm trees were sold to casino several times over, and that Siegiels girlfriend, Virginia Hill, was accumulating money in a Swiss bank account. The Mob soon discovered Siegels skimming and ordered him to be killed, but decided to give him a reprieve until after the opening.
The Flamingo Hotel and Casino finally opened on December 26, 1946. A huge party was organized, with many of the film stars of the day in attendance. The hotel was not finished, so the guest had nowhere to sleep . They partied for two days and then went home. The Flamingo was a flop, and Bugsy Siegel was eventually killed by Mob in 1947, but his dream of making Las Vegas into a gambling center survived. As other businessman realized that Las Vegas had potential as a resort, investment flowed into the town. The Desert Inn Casino opened in 1950, followed by the Sand Casino in 1952, with the Dunes, and the Rivera opening in 1955. Despite gambling being illegal, casinos continued to operate elsewhere in the U.S.A thanks to widespread corruption in the police and government. One of the most luxurious casinos was Chicagos Big House, which operated between 1929 and 1950. Run by associates of gangster Al Capone, it was elegantly furnished, with mahogany gaming tables, oriental rugs, and free taxi service to shuttle players to and from Chicagos southside. The club was also the headquarters of countrywide bookmaking operation.