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The Black Book and the Mob

The Untold Story of the Control of Nevada's Casinos

Ronald A. Farrell and Carole Case

Publication Year: 1995

A tale of good and evil, of corruption and deceit, of prejudice, politics, and power, this compelling account scrutinizes the immensely lucrative Nevada gambling industry’s struggle to maintain legitimacy—or at least the appearance of it.
    Ronald A. Farrell and Carole Case tell how state regulators created the “Black Book” in the 1960s, a list of “notorious and unsavory” persons banned forever from owning, managing, or even entering casinos in the state. The regulators dramatically pursued and publicly denounced former lieutenants of Al Capone, alleged overlords of the American Mafia, nationally known professional gamblers, and major casino owners, as well as small-time bookies and hoods, reputed sports fixers, and gambling cheats. To date, thirty-eight names have been entered in the Black Book, including Sam Giancana, Anthony Spilotro, and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal.
    Farrell and Case contend, however, that the denunciations were a melodrama, meant to show that the government was cleansing the city of corruption. Through the Black Book, the regulators focus public attention on “the Mob,” rather than on a multitude of competing criminal interests already in the gaming industry. The authors uncover evidence of ethnic discrimination by the regulators, including selective prosecution of Italian Americans whose notoriety fit popular Mafia stereotypes.
    The Black Book and the Mob records hearings of the regulatory commission and the voices of lawyers, government officials, casino owners, and the people named in the Black Book itself. This Las Vegas story is a rebuke to the gaming industry and a cautionary tale for many states and communities now weighing the legalization of casino gambling.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiv

With the spread of casino gambling in the United States, there has been increased concern with issues of its regulation. Of persistent preoccupation is its potential infiltration by organized crime. For direction in addressing these concerns, others embarking on casino gambling have looked to "the Nevada experience." ...

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1. Denunciation and the Illusion of Social Control

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pp. 3-16

This is a story about good and evil. The setting is Las Vegas, and the plot involves the control of legalized gambling. The good in our story is theoretically the law and those responsible for the protection of state interests; the evil is organized crime, which is seen as presenting a threat to those interests. ...

Part 1. The Early Period of Nevada Gambling

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2. Babylon in the Desert

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pp. 19-38

In the minds of many, gambling is synonymous with Nevada. Indeed, it has always been an integral part of the state. Because of Nevada's long-standing reputation as the nation's gambling capital, it may come as a surprise that the state has historically had a strong Mormon influence. ...

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3. Genesis of the Black Book

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pp. 39-52

The Black Book began with the entry of 11 men who were known nationally and internationally as organized crime figures. They were identified as members of mafia families in Chicago, Kansas City, and Los Angeles, with the families from the last two cities viewed in law enforcement circles ...

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4. A Savior Comes to Babylon

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pp. 53-64

The mid-1960s brought the eccentric Howard Hughes to Las Vegas. His presence was like a miracle. He immediately bought several casinos that were thought to have been controlled by organized crime. Some of these had been owned by Moe Dalitz and his partners, ...

Part 2. Internal Crises in the Industry

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5. Enemies from Within

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pp. 67-98

The relative peace of the Hughes's era seemed to end abruptly when regulators faced major problems that erupted from within the industry itself. In the late 1970s, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was involved in ongoing investigations of several Las Vegas casinos. ...

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6. Control Comes to Babylon

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pp. 99-119

Although knowledge of the enemies within major casinos was disclosed in the 1970s, those involved were not entered into the Black Book until the 1980s. Control came to Babylon only after Spilotro's appeal of his entry was denied by the Nevada Supreme Court. ...

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7. Tamer "The Atypical"

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pp. 120-138

After 17 years of investigation by five separate Nevada gaming control boards, 76-year-old James Tamer became the 28th nominee to the Black Book. While others were denied licensing as early as 1970 because of their business associations with him, Tamer was not entered into the Black Book until 1988. ...

Part 3. The Revitalization Period

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8. Renewed Zeal

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pp. 141-166

When the regulation of Nevada gaming entered the mid-1980s, some of the questions that had been raised about the constitutionality of the Black Book had already been resolved in the 1983 state supreme court decision in the case of Spilotro v. State ex reI. Gaming Commission. ...

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9. Cusumano "The Typical"

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pp. 167-179

Joseph Vincent Cusumano, an alleged loan shark, was known on the streets of Las Vegas as Anthony Spilotro's replacement for Chicago organized crime interests in town.1 Recall that the Nevada Supreme Court had upheld Spilotro's Black Book entry in 1983, so for a little while Las Vegas seemed free of his imminent threat. ...

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10. Contemporary Moral Crises

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pp. 180-193

When Nevada gaming entered the decade of the 1990s, it faced yet two additional crises. They both involved allegations of corruption that were of scandalous proportions. One raised questions about the integrity of the state's race and sports books, and the other questioned the legitimacy of the regulation of gaming itself. ...

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11. Return to Morality

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pp. 194-214

In the early 1990s, the Gaming Control Board's credibility was called into question, and the integrity of Las Vegas' major institution of higher education was damaged by adverse publicity. The state and the city were suffering from a lack of public confidence. It thus greatly behooved the regulators to do whatever they could ...

Part 4. Denunciaton and Inequality

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12. Righteous Indignation and the Mark of Cain

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pp. 217-229

We have traced the development and application of the Black Book to perceived threats to Nevada gaming. These threats have emanated from both within and outside the industry, and from legitimate as well as illegitimate sources. They have included, among others, federal threats of intervention, problems of skimming ...

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Epilogue: Where Are They Now?

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pp. 230-236

The extent to which a largely symbolic mechanism such as the Black Book can accomplish a degree of control in the gaming industry is an interesting issue. One might comment on that through a look at the present circumstances of those who have been listed on its pages over the years. ...


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pp. 237-249


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pp. 250-263


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pp. 264-275


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pp. 276-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780299147532
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299147549

Publication Year: 1995