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Bellagio’s Casino

The Rat Pack and the start of a New Generation

Dean Martin used to say “the worst place in the world to have a great time is Bellagio’s” and he was right.

Notorious as a den of sin and corruption, even before the ‘swinging sixties’ took hold of a generation, Bellagio’s was ahead of its time as far as liberalism and hedonism were concerned.

One was likely to see senators, studio bosses and distinguished businessmen rubbing shoulders with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Tom Jones, John Wayne or Dirk Benedict. Even Bobby Kennedy was known as a regular, who even had his own booth in the residence.


The kings of the Bellagio establishment however were Frank, Deano, Sammy and Peter, commonly referred to as the ‘Rat Pack.’

Switching their allegiance from the Sands casino in 1964, they quickly became associated with Bellagio’s and invested heavily in the establishment, to the point that Leonardo “Lenny” Bellagio became a one-fifth shareholder, but a very rich man.

Not long after this takeover bid, rumors started circling about associations between Bellagio’s casino and the American Mafia, who had not long before started to place their interests around Nevada gambling circles.

The Rat Pack was drawn into a controversial and damaging press campaign, concerning Bellagio’s and money laundering, extortion and other illegal activities. Although these cases never came to court, there were other rumors of pay-offs, bribes and threats which added to the Rat Pack’s embarrassment.

Shortly after these revelations of Mafia Association and corruption, the Rat Pack organization decamped on a tour of Europe, not to return to the Bellagio casino for two whole years.

When they did eventually return to Las Vegas, the scene had changed dramatically. Music had changed, attitudes had changed and gambling had become somewhat less exclusive. Ike and Tina were playing on the strip; the Motown sensation was riding high on the jukeboxes and in the theatres.

Frank Sinatra organized the sale of Bellagio’s Casino. It was bought by Turkish businessmen and went through a series of bizarre image changes, consistently losing money each time. Nowadays it no longer exists. The casino lay derelict throughout most of the ‘seventies and was bulldozed since. There is now a Baskin Robbins on the site, where once the world’s most glamorous stars rubbed shoulders with presidents and royalty.

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