THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 3rd in Series

This is the third chapter from Slick's new book, Slick Hanner's Las Vegas--Then & Now.

People Ask me…

The first big question people ask me about Las Vegas is if the stuff in the movie Casino is true. I tell them they got about 50% correct. If you read my book, Thief, I set a lot of things straight. The character played by Joe Pesci is based on Tony Spilotro who was a womanizer. I knew Tony Spilotro for many years and know many others who were even closer to him. The females who knew Tony said he was like a teddy bear. (See next section: “Casino the Movie” for more info.)

The second question I get asked is which hotels and casinos I would recommend to visit. I believe the best five in order are:
1. The Bellagio with their dancing waters that you can view for free…very romantic. (Pictured above right.)
2. The Mirage where you can watch their volcano exploding for free. (Reminds me of someone I know well.)
3. Treasure Island where you can catch a free pirate show with actors in period costumes dueling aboard a pirate ship complete with exploding cannons for free.
4. Downtown Freemont Street at night with its free laser light show. (Better just see it because I can’t describe it.)
5. You might want to give the new ultra modern CityCenter a look. It’s billed as “one of the great urban places of the world.”

The third question folks ask is whether I’d like to go back to the old days of Vegas. Of course I would. I was lot younger and had plenty of energy. I also missed a lot of opportunities back then. Maybe I’m a little wiser now and would hold on to my money better. I probably let at least a $1 million slip through my fingers. A lot has happened to Las Vegas in the last 40 years as compared to the long histories of New York or London. I’d like to see the town really go again, only this time I’d take advantage of more opportunities.

I remember working in a casino when they hired a new floorman. Everyone said, “What could he know about gambling? He went to college.” Today you can’t get a job in a major casino unless you have a college degree. And you’re hired through the casino’s Human Services department.

In my day, the only kind of a human services we had was called “juice.” If you knew the right people, you got juiced into a job. Even a felony didn’t keep you from working in a Las Vegas casino. Maybe you’d even get a job faster than someone without a felony. And there were no lawsuits against the casinos back then. The mob had their own ways of settling problems.

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