Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas
by Steve Theunissen
The Mob Connection
Today Las Vegas is a glittering jewel of materialistic excess and egoism. In the 1930’s it was a dusty backwater, that seemed to be heading nowhere. What was the spark that led to such a rapid transformation? Well, it all began with The Flamingo Hotel. Las Vegas didn’t have any quality casinos before gangster Bugsy Siegel came to town in the late ‘30’s. Bugsy was there to take control of the mob’s growing gambling empire. In 1945, Siegel, along with three mob associates, bought a small night club in Vegas. A short time later the place was sold. Siegel ploughed his profits into the Nevada Project Corporation, with the goal of financing a much larger establishment.
Siegel’s dream casino started to come to fruition with the hiring of a building contractor to develop a vacant lot. Siegel already had a name for the place – The Flamingo, in honor of his girlfriend Virginia Hill. The project, however, was plagued with problems from the get go. Costs sky rocketed and nervous mob investors started hanging around the site. This put the builders on edge and led to Siegel’s classic assurance to his building contractor when such concerns were voiced – “Don’t worry – we only kill each other.”
But when costs reached the exorbitant figure of $6 million, mob backers began to smell a rat. They’d noticed that Siegel’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill was taking an awful lot of fights to Zurich lately. They figured that Bugsy was skimming cash off the contracting costs and stashing it in an offshore holding. The mobsters demanded their money back.
Siegel was in trouble. But he saw a way out. If the casino turned a huge profit he could pay back his investors from the profit. He fast tracked the opening but it turned into a disaster. A major reason for the flop was that the grand opening of the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas was held during the ‘dead’ period between Xmas and New Year. Siegel was now history. The mob put out a contract on his life and he was murdered a short time later. The mob then claimed the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas as their own and installed new management.
The Flamingo Reborn
Within months the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas had been transformed into a money maker. From then on the mob decided to emulate the model and casino after casino sprang up all over town.
In the mid ‘50’s the mob, under the head of Meyer Lansky, sold the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas to a former carpet layer named Albert Parvin.
It has changed hands several times since then and today the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas is owned by Caesars Entertainment. In 1994 the old building was knocked down and a completely updated and revamped complex put in it’s place. The 2005 version of the Flamingo Hotel Las Vegas boasts 15 acres of Caribbean style water playground along with a world class casino and resort facility.
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