The Flamingo has been rebuilt at its original location, but the Tropicana still has pieces of its original building, making it the last true mob structure on the Strip, said Michael Green, Nevada historian and a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. When the Riviera opened in , organized crime outfits from across the country had already sunk their teeth into the casinos in a takeover that had started the decade before.
Gambling profits were skimmed to send back home to pay for their gangs' illegal enterprises involving illegal betting, drugs, prostitution, murders and everything else. A classic mob joint, the Riviera's place in that seedy time is probably outranked by the Flamingo, historians said. That casino was run by Bugsy Siegel, who is regarded as the most historically significant figure from that era. The casinos were cleaned up in the s and '80s, courtesy of state and federal crackdowns on organized crime.
Three of the most famous movies ever filmed in Las Vegas used the Riviera as a backdrop, including the Rat Pack's original Ocean's 11 , the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever and Casino , the movie based on real-life Vegas mobsters Frank Rosenthal and Anthony Spilotro during their '70s heyday at the Stardust. More recently, it was featured in The Hangover in The Riviera also pioneered the business model that helped Vegas turn into an entertainment capital.
The casino's first headliner was Liberace. The Las Vegas Convention Center is expanding; the 3,room Resorts World Las Vegas is years behind schedule but now showing substantial progress ; and the eyesore former Fontainebleau , towering plus stories and stalled since the recession, is under new ownership and slated to finally be finished.
On the north Strip, it seems the last two vacant-land acquisitions involved the same property — the former New Frontier site — three years apart. And at the south edge of the Strip, several parcels have been sitting for years, waiting to be purchased, with only a few deals on the books.
Australian billionaire James Packer and partners acquired the former New Frontier site, next to Fashion Show mall, through foreclosure in They imploded the hotel with plans to develop a luxury resort, but the market tanked, and they never built it. Meanwhile, at the south Strip, one of the few land sales of recent years was for a small tract purchased by operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame.
The pinball club bought the 1. That buyer, from Florida, set out to develop a story condo tower, but he never built it and lost the land to foreclosure. One thing seems certain: For now, the fat-and-happy days of billion-dollar land deals on Las Vegas Boulevard are long gone.
Contact Eli Segall at esegall reviewjournal.