Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal proved over-and-over again that his business sense and gambling abilities would always keep money rolling in for his bosses in the Chicago and other Italian mafia connected families.
He was the first to bring sports gambling to the casinos, he was the first to bring women dealers to the tables – he basically used his marketing genius skills to revolutionize Las Vegas into a gold mine for underworld organized crime families.
Rosenthal had control of four different hotels on the Las Vegas strip and despite who was the front-man of the operations, he was the true man behind closed doors that always ran the show.
His rise to being one of the most powerful people in Las Vegas during the 1970's was cut short after 14 years due to numerous problems.
His gangster pal Nicky "The Ant" Spilotro, who was sent out to Vegas by the mob to watch his back, was having an affair with his wife, showgirl, Geri McGee. And the fact that Spilotro was constantly in the news for illegal activities – Rosenthal association with Spilotro would haunt him throughout his Vegas career.
Rosenthal's wife had drug and alcohol problems that constantly interfered with his ability to stay completely focused on casino operations. They also had problems staying faithful to each other and had problems raising their one and only child because Rosenthal could not trust that his wife would take care of the child in a sober civil manner when he was not around.
Also plaguing his ability to run the casinos and hotels the way he wanted to was the Las Vegas Gaming Commission. They were always on his back about not having a gaming license, even though Rosenthal claimed his responsibilities at the casinos and hotels were so low on the totem pole that they did not require him to have a license – the Gaming Commission knew different and was dead set on having him removed from Las Vegas.
The whole reason Rosenthal was sent out to Vegas was because he was so good at every aspect of gambling he could easily double the profits of the Casinos, in turn, leaving more money on the table for the Mafia to profit from. The Mafia was skimming money off the top of profits of casinos that they controlled, illegally, but as long as Rosenthal was in control, the profits would stay large and the skim would easily go unnoticed.
In A Place Like Las Vegas, You Can't Stay At The Top Forever
Rosenthal really wanted to get his Gambling License so he could run the casinos and hotels legally as an acting boss. But due to his mafia connections and illegal gambling past the board wanted no part of letting him have any such power in Vegas. In an attempt to fight back against the commission that would not give him a fair hearing in a court of law, Rosenthal created his own T.V. talk show to expose the corruption and bias he was facing.
Rosenthal's show invited celebrities like O.J. Simpson, Wayne Newton, Frank Sinatra and many others on the set. But secretly he was looking to use the talk show to fire back against the Gaming Commission for strong-arming him on his Gaming License. The talk show also gave him a job title within the casino that did not require him to obtain any casino licensing - two birds with one stone - plenty of marketing for his hotels and casinos and lots of bad mouthing the Gaming Commission and calling them out for unfair use of their power.
But the Talk show brought on a lot of bad publicity and the Mafia was not happy with this exposure that Rosenthal was creating. The bosses back home asked Rosenthal many times to knock the antics off for it was bringing too much-unneeded attention to the very thing they were trying to protect, "The Skim".
Not only was the Mafia getting fed up with his antics, so was law enforcement. With the now exposed "casino-skim", the Mafia connections and the robbing, stealing, corruption and loan sharking that was ripping apart the city, courtesy of the "The Whole in the Wall Gang" and Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the FBI stepped in to take down the whole Mafia empire that turned into a mess. After 14 years of being on top, Rosenthal would finally be muscled out of what he once called paradise, Las Vegas.
On the evening of Oct. 4, 1982, Lefty Rosenthal, the talented mob-connected professional gambler, walked out of Tony Roma’s restaurant on East Sahara Avenue to his Cadillac. His car was bugged with a bomb, and when Rosenthal started the vehicle the bomb exploded with him in it. Although he survived, the message was sent, get out-of-town.
"Lefty", retired to Miami where he continued his career as a gambler. No one was ever prosecuted on the bombing, but it's widely speculated who was behind it, The Mafia.
"Lefty" died on October 13, 2008, at the age of 79.
As for the Mafia's skim and the power they had in Las Vegas
By 1980, law enforcement would have them pretty much ran out of town. Although in a place like Las Vegas, there will always be some illegal activity, but the pull that the Mafia used to have in Vegas has now dwindled down to nothing. Pimps, small-time drug peddlers and college card counters probably have more pull.
"Lefty" was a legend and will always be remembered for his ability to pick the winners in any sport. He knew how to run a successful casino/hotel operation like a scientist - he loved showgirls and topless dancers, and his deep Mafia ties made him extremely powerful and dangerous.