To commemorate the April 4, 1957 opening of the Tropicana, I wrote a guest blog post for the Mob Museum:
It just so happened that Conquistador’s owner, “Dandy” Phil Kastel, had a long and fruitful partnership with Frank Costello, perhaps the nation’s most infamous gangster in the spring of 1957. For years, Kastel had run New Orleans’ Beverly Club (an ostensibly illegal but still operating casino) for Costello; the two also shared in a Louisiana slot machine route operation that, similarly, might have been illegal on paper but which police managed to avoid until the Kefauver Committee’s spotlight forced them into action. And it almost goes without saying that most “Miami hotel men” who came to Las Vegas in this era were more than familiar with Meyer Lansky, another famous gangland name.
The Mob Museum is a great place to visit when you are Downtown. One of my personal highlights of this year’s VIMFP was leading a tour of the museum and sharing a few of my own thoughts on the history of organized crime, Las Vegas, and gambling. This piece goes into a little more detail about the opening itself than my Vegas Seven feature, which took in the property’s entire history.