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Mob Museum in Las Vegas commemorates Kefauver Hearings

November 15, 2010 | 12:00 pm

Vegas In the popular imagination, Las Vegas and the mob are joined at the hip. Their shared history is a point of fascination for many, thanks in no small part to movies such as "The Godfather," "Bugsy" and "Casino," which mythologized the role of organized crime in the city's creation and rise to glory.

On Monday, the Mob Museum in Vegas is paying tribute to one chapter in the city's history that proved crucial for its future as the gaming capital of the world. On this day 60 years ago, the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, led by U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver, held the seventh in a series of 14 nationwide hearings. Known as the "Kefauver Hearings," the sessions were intended to investigate activities that took place across state lines. On Nov.15, 1950, the hearing was held in Las Vegas.

The hearing took place on the second floor of the city's U.S. Post Office and Court House building. The hearings, which were broadcast on television, found that mob activity around the country was pervasive and lucrative. As a result, many states passed anti-gambling laws and started cracking down on organized crime.

The museum said that the outcome of the Kefauver Committee hearings ironically helped to cement the city's position as a gaming hub, as many exiled gambling operators moved to Nevada, which was the only state where gambling was then legal.

The museum is merely calling attention to Monday's anniversary; though it has long been in the works, it is scheduled to open its doors in the fall of 2011. The museum -- whose formal title is the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement -- will occupy the space where the Kefauver hearings took place in Vegas. The building was dedicated on Nov. 27, 1933 as the city’s first federal building, according to the museum.

-- David Ng

Photo: the Las Vegas strip. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters


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