Crime, politics, business form a nexus in Las Vegas (and elsewhere.) That’s the central point of the book, which is exhaustively detailed and documented by veteran investigative reporters. In my earlier review, I detailed their startling revelations about the Kennedy clan, their ties to organized crime, and how that may have had a role in the assassinations of JFK and Bobby. Just so you have no illusions, Harry Truman said their father Joe Kennedy “was as a big a crook as we have anywhere in this country.” Then there was Meyer Lansky (the real power in Vegas) blackmailing J. Edgar Hoover from the 30’s on over homosexual sex. This certainly explains why that monster was never real enthusiastic about busting organized crime. In all of this, Vegas money and crime always seemed to be involved.
But this is just all ancient history, right? Wrong. The authors show how it continues up to this day. Vegas plays a major role in laundering drug money, and the players there have influence across the country and well into D.C. They also say something I’ve said for a while, that the huge amounts of money being laundered have to go into US banks at some point, and it is difficult to believe that the banks just have no clue. I would add, that money then goes to hedge funds and Wall Street. The connections and vast cash machine that Bugsy Seigel put into play in the 1950’s is maybe bigger and more powerful than ever. Why? Because it has merged interests with politicians and supposedly legit businesses.
Are the authors too close to the subject and thus over-estimating its influence? Possibly. But it does have the ring of truth about it. I mean, assume that drug money routinely gets laundered and some of it ends up parked in investment banks. That would mean the entire system is corrupt, right?
But that’s would just be foolish speculation, right? Oh, wait…
UN Office on Drugs and Crime: Drug money laundered by banks kept financial system going during financial crisis
Vegas, say the authors, with its casinos that generate huge amounts of cash, has been a center for money laundering from its founding to the current day. What happened in Vegas still stays in Vegas, and has spread its influence across the country.
Let’s just legalize drugs. Really.
As for the morality of gambling, in March 1951 Meyer Lansky met privately with Sen. Estes Kefauver.
“What’s so bad about gambling,” Lanksy asked the senator. “You like it yourself. I know you’ve gambled a lot.”
“That’s right,” Kefauver replied. “But I don’t want you people to control it.”