If Las Vegas is Sin City (and it is widely conceded that it is), then surely the original sinner was Bugsy Siegel, who erected the first Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1946 to exploit legalized gambling in Nevada. He paid the ultimate penance and was gunned down in Beverly Hills before the Flamingo had a chance to hit the jackpot; the money he had skimmed off the top couldn’t be reproduced for his initial investors.
Before long, though, the Flamingo was hopping. New casinos were built; tourists flocked to this new shining gambling capital while cash passed in and out of dirty hands under rye-soaked poker tables in the darkened, smoky gaming dens and private back rooms. Big names came to town: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Liberace, all diverting attention from the illegal activities unfolding in the shadows. Las Vegas, with its indelible reputation as a gambling and entertainment mecca, was built by the mob, there is no question. It’s more "legitimate" now, with luxury spas, family friendly attractions and unparalleled shopping and dining areas, but without its shady past Las Vegas would be just another long street, baking under the hot desert sun.
A lifestyle, the culture, the game: call it whatever, but grab a taste of it here before heading back into regular sanitized reality.
Located in the historic former federal courthouse where the Kefauver Committee held its hearings on organized crime in Las Vegas on November 15, 1950, the Mob Museum holds its cause close to the heart. While the Mob story often gets romanticized in repeated tellings, the Mob Museum offers a view from the other side by uncovering the backstory of the law enforcement who brought the mafia to justice. With its period-restored courtroom, exhibits on characters in the Mob and the people who busted them and how each side carried out their mission, the Mob Museum is the most objectively informative mob attraction in Vegas.
Sometimes people just need to work out a little bit of stress in a controlled environment. Even better when that includes an Uzi. Doubling as both a retail gun shop and a shooting range, Guns & Ammo Garage is a hit with both gun-loving tourists and gun-loving locals. Bring a fedora hat and feel like Bugsy as you try on a Tommy Gun for size; or go Eastwood all over a .44 Magnum. From handguns to machine guns, there’s a firearm for everyone’s taste.
After mafia-obsessed visitors have finished their rounds with a Tommy gun, they can hit Dream Racing for a few laps in a sweet getaway car. This Italian racecar service allows guests to appease their need for speed with a Ferrari F430 after a training session in a totally ultraprecise 3D track simulator. Included in their Dream Racing package are five laps around the infield of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, instruction from a certified race car driver, use of the suit and helmet, and hotel pick up and drop off.
Very few places in the world are more balling than the suite at the top of the Hard Rock Hotel’s Paradise Tower, with its panoramic windows and the bright lights of Sin City at your feet. The suites are decorated by Chemical Spaces, one of Vegas’ leading interior design firms (The Real World Suite even has a LED bowling alley in it!), and Nobu is right at the bottom of the building at any lodger’s beck and call. So while it may not be gangster in the traditional, old-world mafia sense, it’s certainly gangster in the Lil’ Wayne, Young Money way.
See some more baller hotels in Las Vegas:
This interactive, immersive look into the mob history of Las Vegas places visitors directly into the shoes of the original mobsters, beginning with a passport checked off at Ellis Island. Aided by period actors both live and holographic, as well as an atrium full of artifacts, photos and videos of Las Vegas’ most notorious mobsters, some of which are on loan from the living relatives of people like Bugsy, the Mob Attraction is sure to both entertain and info-tain in equal amounts. For an added bonus, they also offer legally-binding mob weddings!