Mob City – Reno Connection

When Lucky Luciano organized the first Commission of the American Mafia, the cities with representation were all large, heavily invested in the riches from Prohibition, and had a ready delivery system for the booze that came in, usually along waterways and docks controlled by gangs.

Detroit, Buffalo, and Cleveland (although each currently seeing a decline in jobs and population) were heavily populated and had numbers rackets, union infiltration, loan sharking operations, and cargo hijacking on the docks that provided additional income to the families. Smaller cities were less profitable to manage, although not necessarily any less tough or less corrupt.

The Reno connection was more important for individual gang members in the 1920’s and 1930’s and it wasn’t until later that the Chicago Outfit, the Detroit Partnership, and the New York Mob enjoyed a piece of the gambling in Reno. In the 1920s, Reno had its own Mob, a handful of men who controlled the gaming, speakeasies, prostitution (which was legal), loan sharking, and may have had a hand in opium and heroin distribution.

George Wingfield was the original architect of Reno’s banking services and owned a piece of a dozen casinos in town, even before Nevada legalized open-gaming. And it was George and Bill Graham who made sure the gaming bill passed in 1931 by showering their legislators with campaign contributions. The new book, Mob City: Reno Connection reveals the power the small town Mob had over Reno and how the city grew into the “Biggest Little City in the World.”

Mob City is a rewritten and updated version of The Roots of Reno, but includes a shorter verse on Goldfield and Tonopah before taking the reader to Reno in the ’20s, filled with road gangs like Alvin Karpis, Ma Barker and her Boys, and “Baby Face” Nelson, and continues on to the fall of the Wingfield banks, the control of early casinos, and  the eventual fall to Chicago, Detroit and New York.

If you enjoyed Vegas and the Mob, this new book will fill you in on what was happening before Vegas was the Gaming Capital of the World.

Thanks for reading – Al W Moe

 

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Vegas and the Mob

The Mob didn’t start the gambling in Nevada, and especially not in Las Vegas. In fact, they were relative latecomers, since Nevada had gambling for years before it was officially legalized in 1931. Because Nevada was such a large state with such a small population, there wasn’t much reason to spend any capital to set up shop there, not when Chicago was making a killing (sometimes literally) with their own casinos in Illinois, and Lucky Luciano’s Family was doing just as well with joints in The Big Apple, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas.

However, once Las Vegas started to grow, both air travel and auto travel became more common and less expensive, and a new thing called air-conditioning became commonplace in the desert, Vegas started looking good.

In fact, although Bugsy Siegel never warmed up (sorry, no pun intended) to the idea of living in Vegas, he spent more and more time in the town because it was legal. Times were getting tougher in Los Angeles, and while he much preferred Beverly Hills to downtown Vegas, nobody was trying to whack him. Of course, all good things come to an end, right?

If you ever wondered how the Mob (starting mostly with Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Bugsy Siegel) moved into Vegas, took over casinos, and then managed to skim millions of dollars while the FBI stood by watching, and listening, well the new book, Vegas and the Mob, answers that question!

Read about the new casinos the Mob built, who fronted for the Mob, and what happened when the Mob got crossed. Through forty years of frenzy, the Mob sucked their casinos dry of the profits that should have gone back into rebuilding, so people like Howard Hughes and corporate investors of the 1970s were able to find bargains in the desert, even if at the time of purchase they seemed like bad investments.

Vegas may be clean and free of the Mob today, but it wouldn’t be what it is, without the Mob!

Thanks for reading – Al W Moe

 

Illegal Gambling Clubs of Toledo

Terry Shaffer’s new book, Illegal Gambling Clubs of Toledo, is just terrific. It’s one of only a few books on illegal casinos and certainly the most complete.

Terry is a resident of Toledo and through hard work and a little luck, managed to get files and photos from back when the clubs were in operation. Many of the photos included have never been printed elsewhere.

The book coincides with the recent opening of Ohio’s first legalized casinos, and collectors of casino memorabilia will be happy to see many Toledo chips and dice conclusively identified.

The book includes 72 different illegal gambling operations with photos, addresses, and dates of operation. The books 150 pages (8 x 11 softbound) includes a bibliography and a full index. You can get your copy now and enjoy!

Thanks for reading – Al W Moe

The Roots of Reno

Yup – it’s a new book. Your chance to get the straight scoop on how Reno managed to grow from a tiny little town below Lake Tahoe into the infamous “Biggest Little City in the World.”

Of course, this little ditty is written by yours truly, and I’m sorry to say it’s not perfect. For instance:

It’s not hardcover – but for $14.99 softbound, you save about $10 on the price of the book.

It’s not endorsed by the University of Nevada Reno – they were only interested in publishing my books if their editorial board could chop-out anything they found to be unsavory about the characters, unflattering true facts, stories that contradicted long-held beliefs and confused those beliefs by introducing FBI records or court transcripts, etc., but that did allow me the leeway to use actual records, newspaper reports and the account of witnesses who lived in the area in the 1930s and worked in the casino industry.

It’s not going to be on every bookstore shelf – although you can order it at nearly 25,000 bookstores in the US – or online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Angel Fire Press, and many others.

It has only 30 photos – not the 100 I wanted (the publisher straightened me out).

It has just a 13-page index of names and places – not the 20 I wanted (my wife straightened me out)

On the plus side, it’s fun reading, informative, well-researched and documented without unnecessary footnotes and still manages to tell the story of how Reno grew into what a 1920s East Coast magazine called “Sodom and Gomorrah,” a town of ill-repute and easy morals that featured women, whiskey and gambling – all during prohibition and before legalized open-gaming.

If you want to read a bit more about this book, click on upper title or the book itself.

Thanks for reading – Al W. Moe

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