New UNLV Gaming Research podcast is up

I heartily encourage you to check out the new podcast over at the Center for Gaming Research site–Leslie Nino Fidance’s talk, The Mob Never Ran Vegas. Fidance dissects the claim that, in days of yore, the mob “ran” Las Vegas, and explores the anti-organized crime efforts of Nevada regulators along the way.

This is exactly the kind of stimulating academic research that the Center hopes to assist. Through the wonders of the Internet, we can make this and other talks available to a worldwide audience.

Go to the CGR podcast page or subscribe in iTunes to get connected.

4 thoughts on “New UNLV Gaming Research podcast is up”

  1. This was a great speech on a topic long-overdue for study and correction.

    Leslie is a terrific public speaker with a lovely voice and an amazing vocabulary. She didn’t stutter or stumble once. I’m always highly impressed by people who speak confidently and well.

    It was a scholarly and entertaining speech, backed by a well researched collection of facts.

    I truly enjoyed hearing her speak on this subject.

    I only disagree on one thing. I do not believe the “flame of the mob myth” should be kept alive.

    Myth is not history.

    If anything…I feel that the Mob Museum should, instead, be a Casino History Museum.

    The curator in charge of this project could make a much more entertaining, relevant, stimulating and colorful display by simply using UNLV Special Collections items…and presenting the history of Las Vegas’ true development.

    The Mob Museum (IMHO) is a gigantic joke. It promotes Mayor Goodman and his distorted viewpoint of Las Vegas history…while overlooking the true pioneers (in gaming, design & entertainment) who made LV what it is today.

    The ‘flame of the Mob myth’ will become a bonfire of incorrect views on Las Vegas’ past. Plus, the MM will be a perfect misuse of a beautiful building.

    If true LV casino history is going to be swept under a rug and forgotten…I’d still rather see a Rat Pack Museum than a Mob Museum.

    The Mafia is a tired and stupid subject. Glorifying criminals and thugs, even if counter-balanced by FBI material is a waste of time and space.

    We may as well say that Al Capone invented Las Vegas in 1920 and that Baby Face Nelson invented the cocktail lounge.

    If we are going to get the facts wrong…we may as well do a bang-up job of perpetuating false history.

    “When the Mob Ran Vegas”….is still alive. I was hoping Leslie would have really killed that line forever.

    It was a great speech though. She will do well in her law career or any other job that involves public speaking and fast-minded thinking.

    I was genuinely impressed by her research and eloquent presentation.

    How about us starting a collection of tourist’s Mob sentences. I’ll lead off with the first:

    “When the Mob ran Vegas you could get a showgirl sent to your room in 15 minutes”.

    “When the Mob ran Vegas they’d bury you in the desert for not paying your bar tab”.

    “When the Mob ran Vegas you never had to stand in line”.

    “When the Mob ran Vegas they never allowed Guatamalans to hand out hooker pamphlets”.

    “When the Mob ran Vegas you could get a great steak”.

    ad infi-nausium


    As far as Bugsy is concerned…let me twist history more accurately.

    The heads of Hollywood had Bugsy killed, in Beverly Hills, for ripping Billy Wilkerson off. Hollywood sent a message to the mid-westerners.
    Plain and simple.

    If myth is ‘the new black’….let’s have a heyday with new stories.

    Oswald was actually hired by Sinatra.

    Lastly. If the new myth is that Howard Hughes came to Vegas to buy out the mob for Robert Kennedy,
    then history is really going off track.

    The myths surrounding poor, ole Howard drive me nuts. He bought the Silver Slipper to stop the kights from blinking in his room?!

    etc, etc.

    People have reduced Howard (a once record breaking aviator) down to being a germaphobic junkie.

    The poor guy had his entire sinus canals smashed to bits. Having his maids wear Kleenex boxes on their feet was an act of logic and brilliance.

    There was also logic to his long fingernails, pee jars in the closet, and death by overdose.

    George Eastman (Kodak) chose death by suicide, yet never got reduced to cliche and myth.

    Even Elvis has been reduced to a banana-sandwhich eating, fat Hillbilly Junkie….while few people realize that he knew he was dying 2 years before he actually did…and was thin as a rail for 40 of his 43 years.

    It’s time people search for the logic behind actions, rather than jumping for the nearest cliches and the simplest. most amateur analysis.

    Even the entire 1960s has been reduced to one simple image/belief:
    “Hippies said Groovy Man”.

    The 1920s: “Flappers danced the Charleston and guys in raccoon hats said 23 Skiddo”.

    Myth-makers allow entire decades to be reduced to a one-line cliche.

    Let’s see what the Mob Museum
    Myth-Makers soon come up with. Whatever it is will reverberate (via cliche) around the world for years to come.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with the praise of Fidance’s presentation. I also agree with her assessment that the mob, indeed, never truly ran the city of Las Vegas. However, I do disagree with the idea that establishing the Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (a.k.a. The Mob Museum) is a bad idea.

    In my own personal opinion, I would love to see a museum dedicated to a broad-scope, fair and factual history of the gaming industry in Las Vegas, and I would be in line to see it on opening day.

    Unfortunately, a museum of the history of gaming in Las Vegas would probably not attract the interest and imagination of the tourist population at large in the way that a ‘Mob Museum’ may (by virtue of the general popularity of mafia-themed television, literature, and the like).

    When one considers the ‘Mob Museum’ to be a key element in downtown revitalization, something to draw tourist traffic to the area, I think the mob topic is one of the few that can accomplish this goal.

    As much as I personally would prefer to tour a gaming history museum, I doubt that the final result of such a project would be a significant influx of tourist traffic and associated cash flow. The ‘Mob Museum’, I hope and expect, will help boost the downtown economy nicely in this manner.

    Certainly, the mere existence of such a ‘Mob Museum’ may help to perpetuate some myths about the importance of mob activity in days bygone, but I fully expect it to debunk many myths that visitors may have bought into (the primary role of Bugsy Siegel in the development of the strip, etc) and to contain information and exhibits based entirely on fact.

    If the museum does contain wildly romanticized, inaccurate information about the ‘old days’ of the gaming industry, I shall be sorely disappointed. However, my expectations are high that it will contain high quality, if narrowly focused, set of exhibits.

  3. Yes, M Farley. I agree with you. The museum will likely be very well-done, since it has an experienced curator and it will bring more life to the Downtown area.

    I have a tendency to exaggerate issues while in the heat of the moment. That’s the nature of Internet forums, I suppose.

    The museum will be a good thing, simply by bringing the old building back to life.

  4. Actually, while I think her presentation was technically correct, I view the phrase “when the mob ran vegas” as meaning that they ran the casino’s not the city. In fact, the name las vegas has been used to define the casino business as much as or more than a city. In the early days of the modern casino business, many if not most of the operational guys, pit bosses,casino bosses etc, came from the illegal gaming industry because that’s where the experience was. These guys were probably not mobsters themselves, but I imagine many of them worked in mob sponsored enterprises. So in the sense that the mob influenced the way las vegas was run initially, I think that is the spirit of the words “when the mob ran vegas”.

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