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Gambling History


Read true stories. Dive into the underworld. Explore compelling features.

The blog, It Really Happened!, brings to life the fascinating stories of gambling-related:

  • Crimes

  • Celebrities

  • Lawsuits

  • Gangsters

  • Wins

  • Corruption

  • Casinos

  • Follies

  • Pop culture

  • And much more.

By Doresa Banning

September 20, 2019

In Las Vegas, Coloradan Becomes U.S.’ First Female Casino Owner

1931 Catalyzed by unexpected circumstances, Colorado-born Clara Antoinette Rowan (née Beggs) became the first woman to own a legal casino in the United States. Her husband, Thomas “Tom” George Rowan and his partner Leo Kind obtained one of the first gambling licenses issued in Clark County after Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, for the Rainbow […]

By Doresa Banning

September 13, 2019

Quick Fact – Bugsy Borrows Benjamins

1938, 1946 Notorious mobster, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, borrowed money several times from his friend, actor George Raft, according to the biography George Raft, for which author Lewis Yablonsky interviewed the subject on numerous occasions. Siegel first asked the man he’d known since childhood for a loan in roughly 1938, in the amount of $20,000 ($364,000 […]

By Doresa Banning

September 11, 2019

Hollywood Actor Turns Casino Host for U.S. Crime Syndicate

1958-1959, 1966-1967 Having grown up in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen with various mobsters-to-be — Meyer Lansky, Joe Adonis, Frank Costello and others — he remained cordial with them throughout adulthood. He had deeper relationships with two, first Owney Madden, who’d encouraged him to try acting, and later Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, when they both lived in […]

By Doresa Banning

August 28, 2019

Teach Monkeys to Gamble, How Do They Then Behave?

Late 1970s, 2000s Fay and Jessica were young, capuchin monkeys living on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) campus, where two professors in the department of psychology intended to teach them how to gamble, in the late 1970s. (The female primates were named after actresses Fay Wray and Jessica Lange, who’d starred in the […]

Enjoy the Web’s premier source of fact-based gambling history.

While you peruse the content, know that all of it’s been researched and vetted for accuracy as much as possible. Source lists are provided.

All components of the site are works in progress, updated regularly.

Enthralled by Bugsy, Capone, Lanksy, Costello, Luciano, et al?

The Mobsters section is dedicated to notables like them — criminal syndicate members involved in gambling. Bet you a cold beer or a hot latte you can’t ID everyone in the gallery.

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