Gambling became legal in Nevada in 1931, but Las Vegas remained a dusty, desert stopover until the mob took an interest in it in the 1940s. When Bugsy Siegel rolled into Las Vegas in 1943, neither he nor the town's handful of citizens had any idea what the end result would be. After New York's biggest crime bosses found success with their gambling enterprises in Cuba, they were eager to expand them into the U.S., and what better place to do that than in the lawless Death Valley? By 1946, Siegel was opening the doors of Sin City's first major casino and resort—the Flamingo—but the establishment's profits weren't up to par for Siegel's bosses. Just one year later, Siegel took five bullets while sitting in his lover's Beverly Hills home. It was just the first of many notable deaths in the mob's Sin City power struggle.
While modern Las Vegas has worked hard to rise above its gritty history, former mob lawyer and current Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, is a perfect example of how deeply ingrained the city's mob ties are. The man that defended many of the city's most notorious crime figures is now the same man that oversees the laws they broke (and continue to break). Goodman has never been shy about his sketchy past—he even played himself in Scorsese's famous crime film Casino—and he points to his easy election as proof that the city actually embraces its questionable founders.
Las Vegas embraces a lot of questionable characters, actually. Any number of eccentric celebrities have called Sin City home. One of the city's most notable “mad man” citizens is none other than former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Apart from a lengthy criminal record, Tyson was at the center of one of the most notorious events in boxing history, which also coincidentally occurred in Las Vegas. In 1997, Tyson bit part of boxing opponent Evander Holyfield's ear off mid-match. That little stunt got him banned from boxing for life, but not from Las Vegas where he remains a part-time resident to this day.