The last of my trilogy of Tropicana birthday/anniversary pieces is this blog post from UNLV Special Collections that looks at a different era of the Strip mainstay that is celebrating its 60th:
For research into the Tropicana, one of the best resources is the Tropicana Promotional and Publicity Material Collection, nine boxes of press clippings, press releases, newsletters, and assorted other ephemera that document the Tropicana’s history. While the earliest documents date from 1969, the majority of the collection is comprised of materials generated during Ira David Sternberg’s tenure as director of advertising and public relations in the 1990s.
Read more: Special Collections | University Libraries
The Promotional and Publicity Materials collections for the Tropicana and other casinos are incredibly useful to those interested in reconstructing the past of Las Vegas–I have gotten many insights from those materials that have made it into my articles and books. And I have good news: if you are an academic researcher, Eadington Fellowships are available to defray the costs of a research trip to Las Vegas to use these–and other–collections at UNLV.
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.
Read more: Sixty years ago, the Tropicana opened under Mob’s hidden control | The Mob Museum
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.
In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a six-decade look back at the Tropicana, which celebrates its 60th birthday next week:
However, a piece of paper police officers discovered in Costello’s pocket while he was at Roosevelt Hospital was more eloquent. “Gross casino wins as of 4-26-57,” it read. “$651,284. Casino wins less markers $434,595.00. Slot wins $62,844,” followed by a list of amounts paid to “Mike,” “Jake,” “L.” and “H.” Investigators later determined that, over its first 24 days of operation, Las Vegas’ new Tropicana casino had earned … exactly $651,284. For the next 60 years, the Tropicana would be home to some of Nevada’s most respected gaming executives, a massive skimming operation, a purloined fortune and corporate buyouts. If any single property reveals the many facets of the Las Vegas casino business, it might be the Tropicana.
Source: The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven
The Tropicana has an incredible history–its’s right up there with Caesars and the Flamingo in terms of notoriety and impact.
But no other casino has a video as cool as “A Musical Tour of the Island.” That video makes me wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and stay at the Tropicana. Because “on the island, the action is hot 24 hours a day.”
This week’s Green Felt Journal is a serious investigative look into who, if anyone, McCarran Airport should be renamed for:
Fast-forward to 2017, and a name change for McCarran is back in the news. This time Reid isn’t proposing the switch, although he is part of the story: State senator Tick Segerblom wants to rename McCarran “Harry Reid International Airport” in honor of the recently retired senator. Segerblom wants Reid’s name on Southern Nevada’s chief air gateway because he “symbolizes modern Nevada.”
Read more: Mr. Las Vegas … Airport?
A few additional notes for context. First, I took a look at Wayne’s schedule on his website and I’ve got to say that my respect for him went way, way up. This is a very hard-working performer who, as I say in Seven, is bringing a little piece of Vegas to showrooms everywhere.
Second, here’s a link to a video of Wayne with the mustache I think merits our respect. Good click if you like mustaches or “MacArthur Park.”
I just want to make it clear that this isn’t a mean-spirited “lets mock Wayne and his fans” piece like this old show review, although I’ll grant that “butter-fed cobras in silk suits” is a pretty good line.
I’ve written up a few thoughts for the Washington Posts’s Post Everything on why Las Vegas is suddenly acceptable to the NFL:
The gambling industry here and football have been seeing each other secretly since the 1960s. But Monday’s 31-to-1 vote by league owners to permit the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas with (for now) no stipulations about sports betting is a sign that the league’s and city’s status has changed from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”
Read more: The NFL used to shun Las Vegas. Why is it moving a team there? – The Washington Post
Looking at the history of the NFL, Las Vegas, and gambling is fascinating. The league is steadfastly opposed to legal sports betting despite the fact that many fans bet on the game and it clearly drives a lot of interest. I went back to the Commission on the Review of the National Policy Toward Gambling (1975) to get some context. Pete Rozelle testified extensively then, and laid it out very well.
What I found intriguing is that he said he wasn’t that afraid of legal betting causing actual corruption in the game, but that it might cause fans to think that there was corruption. If they were able to place bets legally, he said, they’d demand Congress investigate every time they lost a bet. Rozelle’s opposition to legal sports betting was rooted in a deep mistrust of his own fans, who he thought would see a conspiracy behind every botched play or blown call.
Because Las Vegas was the country’s sports betting nerve center, Las Vegas was forbidden–although he mentioned that they did monitor Vegas betting lines when looking for irregularities.
So what’s changed? Well, you can read what I think here.
This week’s Green Felt Journal looks at how Lucky Dragon has adjusted in its first 3 months of operation, and what it means for Las Vegas casinos:
The latest Las Vegas hotel casino to open, the Lucky Dragon, has been up and running for more than three months. It may not have the immediate landscape-altering impact of the Strip behemoths that preceded it, but the way the casino is running could have profound implications on how Las Vegas casinos do business in the future.
Read more: Lucky Dragon Casino’s Influence May Be Greater Than Its Size
Interviewing Dave Jacoby, he was really into the rolling chip program, so that became a big focus of the article.
If you’re a Ring of Honor fan, you should like this. In advance of this Friday’s PPV and Saturday’s TV Tapings, I’ve got interviews with three prominent ROH personalities: Adam Cole, the reigning ROH champion; Christopher Daniels, his challenger; and Joe Koff, ROH COO:
On March 10, the company, which bills itself as providing “the best wrestling on the planet,” is holding its 15th anniversary show. Available on pay-per-view for those who can’t make it to Boulder Highway, the show’s main event will feature “Almighty” Christopher Daniels, who wrestled in the first main event of the first Ring of Honor card, squaring off against world champion Adam Cole. Should Daniels prevail, the “Ring General” will capture his first ROH world championship.
Read more: Prominent Ring of Honor Stars Weigh in on Its 15th Anniversary Show
Here are the links to the interviews
Three very different personalities, to say the least. It was great to ask each of them (roughly) seven questions and get their very different perspectives on this weekend.
Each of the three had one thing in common, though: a deep, deep passion for wrestling. These guys absolutely love what they do, and it shows.
If you are in Las Vegas, I highly recommend checking out ROH this weekend at Sam’s Town. And if you’ve got time on Sunday, FSW is running a show there that is sure to be excellent as well.
So far we’ve had a WWE event that saw Bayley capture her first women’s championship and the heartbreaking end to Chris Jericho’s Festival of Friendship. ROH is putting on two solid nights this week, and FSW and other local organizations are showing great talent too. It is shaping up to be a very good year for professional wrestling fans in Las Vegas.
This weekend, my write-up of FSW’s most recent High Octane taping made Vegas Seven:
The FSW Arena is small but well-suited to the drama of professional wrestling. It’s the same kind of larger-than-life characters you’ll see on TV, but quite literally up close and personal. The grapplers can taunt, slap hands with and snatch the signs of fans in the front row, but if you’re not ready for that kind of involvement, you can happily sit in the bleachers and just watch it all unfold.
Read more: Future Stars of Wrestling’s High Octane Event Didn’t Disappoint – Vegas Seven
I can’t say enough about how enjoyable this show was. It’s nice to be able to write about people who are passionate about what they do–on both sides of the ropes.
In this week’s Vegas Seven, my interview with Dean Amrbose and Renee Young is the cover story. Great pictures by Krystal Ramirez:
It’s a path that shows the world really does work in strange ways. Six years ago, Ambrose was getting forks jammed into his forehead until he was streaming blood and powerbombed on thumbtacks in front of a few hundred fans. This year, he won the business’ biggest prize in front of 19,000 Las Vegas fans and hundreds of thousands watching on the WWE Network. But what probably means more to him is that the intensely private Ambrose snared something even more valuable: a rewarding life and someone to share it with.
Source: WWE’s Dean Ambrose and Renee Young: Power Couple – Vegas Seven
This was a really fun interview to do, and I’m glad its gotten such a large reaction.
This week in Vegas Seven, I also had a short article about how March Madness betting impacts Las Vegas:
In the past decade, the amount bet on the tournament has almost doubled. That’s more about the expanding popularity of sports betting itself, though, since the percentage of money bet on the tournament has remained close to 65 percent of all money bet at the books in March. Last year saw the biggest total bet on March Madness yet, and this year’s will likely be even bigger, but betting in general is increasing.
Source: The NCAA Tourney’s Economic Impact on the Las Vegas Strip – Vegas Seven
I looked at some numbers I hadn’t before, and the results, while probably not shocking, do confirm a few things I had suspected.