If you want to understand Las Vegas history, you must get to know Moe Dalitz.
Consider that no mean feat, as Dalitz died in 1989 and in life was a private man. Dalitz gave few in-depth interviews in his lifetime, but much was written about him.
Las Vegas history is filled with characters who lived double lives. The life of Moe Dalitz is perhaps the best example of a gambling man existing in sunshine and in shadow.
His story might have been penned by Horatio Alger had he written scripts for "The Untouchables."
Early in his life, Dalitz was a bootlegger and racketeer mentioned in the same breath as Meyer Lansky and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. In Cleveland, one longtime ...view middle of the document...
Morris Barney Dalitz was born Dec. 24, 1899, in Boston. The son of a laundry operator, Barney, Moe grew up at his father's side. The family moved to Michigan when Moe was still a child, and his father opened Varsity Laundry in Ann Arbor, which served University of Michigan students. Although he would become known first as an illegal liquor and gambling racketeer, Moe was a successful laundry operator throughout most of his life. It was a labor action associated with his laundry business that introduced Moe Dalitz to Jimmy Hoffa, future president of the Teamsters union, the labor organization that one day would be responsible for lending Nevada gamblers the millions it would take to build the first wave of casino resorts in Las Vegas. Dalitz was attempting to keep his laundries from organizing and, according to author James Neff, at one point hired Mafia thugs to make his point.
Once he became associated with mob muscle, a door opened and Dalitz gravitated toward the lucrative and dangerous Prohibition-era liquor trade. All the while he took profits and invested them in legitimate businesses in Detroit and later in Cleveland, where law enforcement noted that he had become associated with the Mayfield Road Gang.
In fact, by the 1930s his list of legitimate businesses was impressive. Dalitz held an interest in the Michigan Industrial Laundry Co. in Detroit and the Pioneer Linen Supply Co. in Cleveland and percentages in the Reliance Steel Co. and the Detroit Steel Co. And there was Milco Sales, Dalitz Realty, Berdene Realty and the Liberty Ice Cream Co. He even...