Literary Las Vegas: Bill Friedman

Bill Friedman tapped 47 years researching organized crime, government and police corruption to write “All Against the Law: The Criminal Activities of the Depression Era Bank Robbers, Mafia, FBI, Politicians, & Cops.” Friedman is also the author of “Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition” and “Casino Management,” and he taught one of the earliest courses in casino management at UNLV during the ’70s. Friedman was president and general manager of the Castaways and the Silver Slipper. Now Friedman serves as president of the Friedman Management Group, which specializes in solving casino marketing, design and operation challenges in sites around the world.


They operated their establishments during the Golden Era of Strip gambling with its superstar and grand production entertainment from the late 1940s through the late 1960s. But by then these gangland owners were around 70 years old and they began retiring, selling out, or passing on. Traditional financial institutions considered Nevada’s underworld-infested casino industry to be a tainted business and refrained from investing. Civella saw the opportunity to fill this financing void by tapping into the Teamsters Pension Fund. As each Strip gambling resort went on the sale block Civella had the Pension Fund finance its purchase by people he was associated with.

Nick Civella began his new money-finder career assisting Frank Caroll who had moved from Kansas City to Las Vegas to build shopping centers. Caroll had gone busted during the early construction of the Landmark casino resort on the Strip, and Civella came to his rescue with a Teamsters Pension Fund loan for which the black-listed gangster was officially paid a finder’s fee. Later in construction Caroll sold the Landmark to tycoon Howard Hughes who opened it as one of the seven casino operations he owned in Nevada for the remainder of his life.

Three years after arranging the Landmark loan, Civella and 17 other men took a charter flight from Kansas City to Caesars Palace where Sheriff Ralph Lamb had the group arrested for vagrancy but the charges were dismissed. The Nevada gaming regulators did not want Black Book figure Civella anywhere near the state’s licensed casinos, buy they could not uncover or block his continuing behind-the -scenes influence over the Teamsters Pension Fund.

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