Lefty Rosenthal: Legendary Vegas Executive with Ties to Organized Crime
Las Vegas has seen its share of notorious criminals, and one of the more recent ones was Frank “lefty” Rosenthal. A former casino executive, Rosenthal was responsible for overseeing the Fremont, Hacienda, Stardust and Marina hotels on the strip and was rumored to have ties to organized crime.
Lefty was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1929, and it was here that he first became involved in sports betting. During his time in Illinois, Rosenthal began running an illegal bookmaking enterprise during the 1950’s. Part of his work included bribing sports officials to fix major events on behalf of the Chicago Outfit, an organized crime unit in the Windy City.
Rosenthal was arrested several times for running his illegal gambling operations; however, he was convicted only one time. That was in 1963, when he was charged with bribing a New York University basketball player to become involved in a points shaving scandal. After serving his sentence, he then moved to Vegas in 1968.
Lefty operated his four casinos and was very successful in doing so. He was the first to operate a sports book inside a Vegas casino, and as a result the Stardust became one of the largest sports betting centers in the United States. His success was not without trouble, as there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on him in 1982. No arrests were made, but authorities believe members of the Mafia were to blame.
Frank Rosenthal died in 2008 at his home in California. A 1995 film titled Casino is largely based on his life and gambling career.