Oh good, he’s dead; FRANK ‘LEFTY’ ROSENTHAL He may have introduced sports betting to US casinos, but few will mourn the ‘awful human being’ who has died aged 79.
He still couldn’t persuade the Gaming Commission to issue him with a licence. . When Rosenthal spotted a professional card cheat, he had the man’s right hand broken with a rubber mallet. Frank Rosenthal was one of those exceptions. He was an awful human being.”
He married a topless showgirl, Geri McGee, and had his own television show, broadcast from the Stardust, which included interviews with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities. In his heyday, during the mid and late 1970s, Rosenthal managed four Las Vegas casinos. Rosenthal was fond of asking, “Who invented the modern sports book?” The answer, according to Rosenthal, was Rosenthal.
Rosenthal led a comfortable life in Florida, managing his nephew’s bar and grill, until receiving the attention he believed his achievements merited in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film, Casino. ’Lefty’ became Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein, played by Robert de Niro; Spilotro appeared as Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci, while McGee, Rosenthal’s wife, was played by Sharon Stone, in the guise of Ginger McKenna.
When asked whether he was right-or left-handed, Rosenthal pleaded the Fifth.
In 1974, when the tax on sports betting was suddenly cut from ten per cent to two per cent, Rosenthal was quick to appreciate the potential for a race and sports book within the casino. Rosenthal survived but by the late 1980s he featured in the ‘black book’ of undesirables banned from Nevada’s casinos. Even after his death, frankrosenthal.com still trumpets Sports Illustrated’s description of Rosenthal, as “The greatest living expert on sports gambling”. The facility he created – large, plush, with multiple television screens and individual cubicles for bettors – was revolutionary, highly lucrative, and copied by other casinos. Byline: David Ashforth
TO A general lack of dismay, Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal has died, aged 79. There are exceptions to the rule. He moved to California, then Florida, leaving Las Vegas in the hands of more respectable, if less colourful, corporations. Stardust was bought by Boyd Gaming, which now operates the casino and racetrack at Delta Downs, in Louisiana.
Two years later, he was convicted of attempting to bribe basketball players.
Born in Chicago in 1929, he soon kept bad company, including childhood friend and adult mobster Tony Spilotro. In 1982, he opened the door of his Cadillac and was blown across the sidewalk by a bomb whose impact was reduced by a metal plate under the driver’s seat. When John Smith, a columnist with the Las Vegas Review Journal, sought reactions to the news of Lefty’s death, one former associate responded: “I hope it’s true.” Another, a former federal prosecutor, remarked: ”It’s been said you should never speak ill of the dead. That, but a lot else besides.
Subsequently, life in Las Vegas became more difficult, and less certain. He preferred to have the results arranged in advance, and was diligent in his attempts to do so.
‘Las Vegas gambler Lem Banker said Rosenthal would cheat a blind pencil salesman if given the chance’
Rosenthal had a large ego and a small fan club. By 1961, when he appeared before a Senate committee on gambling and organised crime, Rosenthal’s activities were dubious enough to prompt him to invoke the Fifth Amendment, a protection against self-incrimination, 38 times.
Frank ‘Lefty’ Rosenthal: notorious organised crime figure, on whose life the film Casino was based
Rosenthal did, indeed, successfully introduce sports betting to casinos, although his idea of a satisfactory book was different from the kind envisaged by fair-minded players. He introduced female croupiers and card dealers and, less welcome, invited the murderous ‘Tony the Ant’ Spilotro to join him. Although repeatedly denied a gaming licence by the Nevada Gaming Commission, Rosenthal, backed by the Chicago mafia, assumed the management of the Stardust. A noted oddsmaker, Rosenthal’s odds were used, legally and illegally, across the US.
Veteran Las Vegas gambler Lem Banker, who knew Rosenthal well,respected his gambling acumen while observing that he would cheat ablind pencil salesman if given the chance.
Upon settling down in Las Vegas, in 1971, following an indictment in California for racketeering, Rosenthal bet at the Rose Bowl turf club, one of several sports books operating independently of the casinos, and worked as a floor man at the Stardust casino. “Metal hammers leave marks,” he later explained.
Rosenthal acknowledged the general accuracy of the film and capitalised on his celebrity through a sports betting website
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