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Knowing Vegas: What’s the story behind Nevada’s Black Book?


If you think the Black Book is something you don’t want your name in, you’re right: It’s the common name for the list of people authorities have barred from entering Nevada gaming establishments. It’s an exclusive club, and the only way out is death.

There are 33 people currently on the list. At its inception in 1960, the Black Book — officially known as the List of Excluded Persons — included 11 names, most added to the list because of their mob ties:

  • Marshall Caifano, Las Vegas enforcer and Chicago mob member
  • Louis Tom Dragna, one-time Los Angeles mob boss
  • Carl James Civella, Kansas City, Mo., mob boss
  • Nicholas Civella, Kansas City, Mo., mob boss
  • Sam Giancana, Chicago mob boss
  • Murray Llewellyn Humphreys, alleged lieutenant of Chicago mobster Al Capone
  • Joseph Sica, Los Angeles mobster
  • Michael Coppola, New York City mob enforcer
  • John Louis Battaglia, Los Angeles mob member
  • Robert L. Garcia, Southern California mob member
  • Motel Grzebienacy, Kansas City, Mo., mob member

Sam Giancana was a Chicago mob boss with CIA ties who gained control of many Las Vegas casinos in the 1950s and 1960s. Skimming at the Sands, Riviera and Desert Inn generated $2 billion a year for the mob, according to the FBI.

John Battaglia was a Los Angeles mobster and prominent gambling figure with known ties to Johnny Roselli, who spent the 1950s and ‘60s knee-deep in Las Vegas mob activity.

Louis Tom Dragna, a third name on the original list, is the only original member whose name remains in the Black Book. Dragna “was considered to be the boss of the Los Angeles organized crime family. He has an arrest record dating back to 1946,” according to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The Black Book — which wasn’t black for long and isn’t actually a book anymore — was created to prohibit people with felony convictions against the gaming industry from entering a casino, and those on the list are committing gross misdemeanors if they choose to enter a casino despite their ban. In the book’s first 40 years, there were 49 people added to the list. Since 2000, fewer than a dozen have been added.

The most recent addition to the list? Roderick William Dee II, a convicted slot cheat who was added to the book in 2013 and removed earlier this year after dying of cancer in December.

Contact Stephanie Grimes at sgrimes@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes

 

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