Tropicana Las Vegas resort's past mob ties explored as casino closes

8 News Now
Tropicana Las Vegas resort's past mob ties explored as casino closes
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LAS VEGAS (KLAS)- The Tropicana was one of the last Strip casinos from the Las Vegas mob era.
Several mobsters and a casino executive were sentenced to prison during the 80s for running a skimming operation there.

“According to his own testimony in federal court, former casino executive Carl Thomas worked for more than 20 years as a casino skimmer for organized crime,” former 8 News Now reporter Ned Day said in a TV report on Dec. 16, 1985.

Day aggressively covered the mob, and he died while on vacation in Hawaii.

“He says he will do no more snitching,” Day said covering the corruption trial of Thomas.

Geoff Schumacher of the Mob Museum said Tropicana casino executive Thomas played the key role in skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The Tropicana was kind of born from the mob,” Schumacher said. “He conceived this idea of taking money off the top before it was officially counted in the count room at the Tropicana, and then that money was essentially put in a bag and transported back to the Midwest.”

Before he was Las Vegas mayor, Oscar Goodman was the attorney for the mobsters sentenced for skimming the Tropicana.

Goodman told 8 News Now back in the 80s the 15-year sentences were a joke.

“I think it’s way too stiff. What do you do for people who are engaged in physical violence, or serious crimes? This was a white collar situation, and I say in the past the heaviest sentence that was imposed in this country for an offense of this nature has been four years,” Goodman said on Oct. 10, 1983.

The Mob Museum has an exhibit that captures the “skim” that was happening at several Las Vegas casinos. One panel focuses on the first mob era at the Tropicana where it was discovered that famed mobster Frank Costello was involved.

“The state of Nevada was very concerned about this because you know if the mob is involved in Las Vegas, the [federal government] may want to shut us down,” Schumacher said.

The former chief of the Las Vegas FBI office Joseph Yablonsky spoke to 8 News Now in 1983 after the convictions of the mobsters.

“I think there’s been a significant impact on individuals who are involved in organized crime,” Yablonsky then said.

Schumacher said mob-run casinos stunted the growth of Las Vegas because they were sending untaxed money to places outside the city, which meant Vegas lost out on funds that could’ve built roads and schools.