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Gambling History

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


“One of the best casino biographies I have seen. Meticulous detail, well researched, and by far the most detailed account yet of the twisted history that the operation deserves. … Your account is superb.”

—Howard W. Herz, American Gaming Archives

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Old Tales of Nevada


This blog brings to life compelling and true casino- and gambling-related stories, from around the world, between 1800 and 2000.

  • Crimes

  • Celebrities

  • Lawsuits

  • Gangsters

  • Wins

  • Corruption

  • Casinos

  • Follies

  • Pop culture

  • And much more.

By Doresa Banning

September 9, 2021

Nevada Gambler-Cum-Mayor Called Out for Bubble Peeking

1955-1956 In March 1955, Nevada gaming regulators accused Caliente mayor Donald E. Rowan of cheating while dealing a 21 game — which is illegal — in the Shamrock Club. He’d operated the Clover Street gambling enterprise with his partner and father-in-law Joe Colombo for seven years. Rowan had been the elected head of this southeastern […]

By Doresa Banning

September 1, 2021

Greek Gambling Game Barbudi Doesn't Catch on in Reno

1964-1965 “Build it, and they will come” wasn’t a sure thing for gambling houses in Nevada, particularly ones offering an uncommon game. Case in point is the Barboot Coffee House and Casino in Reno. The Visionary C. Mathias “Matt” Skender, moved from Michigan to The Biggest Little City to introduce his favorite gambling game — […]

By Doresa Banning

August 25, 2021

Congress' Strategy For Slashing U.S. Gambling Activity Proves Problematic, Part II

1952-1968 Soon after two new federal taxes — the tax on wagers and the wagering occupational tax — went into effect in late 1951, problems with them arose. (See Part I for a description of and impetus behind the taxes.) First Complication to Arise The constitutionality of the occupational tax was called into question. In […]

By Doresa Banning

August 19, 2021

Congress' Strategy For Slashing U.S. Gambling Activity Proves Problematic, Part I

1951 Gambling is the lifeblood of organized crime. This was U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver’s conclusion after the Special Committee on Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, which he headed, concluded its investigation. The Kefauver Committee’s work, in part, involved conducting hearings in 14 U.S. cities, during which they grilled (sometimes, unsuccessfully) about 600 witnesses, including big-time […]

Enjoy the Web’s premier source of fact-based gambling and casino 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 these and similar notables — organized crime 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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