The Life & Times Of Benny Binion - A Mobster & Legendary Gambler

If one has ever taken a trip to Las Vegas back in the 70's or 80's one of the casinos most likely on the agenda for a visit would probably have been the Horseshoe, owned by the notorious gambler and mobster Benny Binion.

Having become the reigning boss of the mob in Dallas by the early 1940's, Benny Binion then sought to take over operations of the gambling rackets in Fort Worth. Shortly afterwards the current local mob boss was murdered.

With the appointment of Steve Gutherie as Dallas County Sheriff in 1946, he lost his political influence with the local government. The Chicago mob decided to move in, Binion decided to move out, and set up business in Las Vegas.

Upon his re-location, Binion became a partner of the Las Vegas Club, but had a massive falling out, over limits on bets. In 1951 after re-naming the Las Vegas Club the Westerner Gambling House and Saloon, he also purchased the Apache Hotel and the Eldorado Club. This was to be the incarnation of the Binion's Horseshoe casino, and it immediately became popular due to its high limits on bets.

Starting out, he set his crap table limits at $500, ten times that of any other Vegas casino. He was soon to receive death threats from competitors, though due to his successful strategy attracting many high rollers, others decided to follow suit.

As well as honouring a bet of any size provided it was the gambler's first, his was the first casino to replace the sawdust-covered floors with quality carpets throughout. He would also arrange for customers to be transported to and from the airport by limo, and also saw that all players had free drinks. At the time comps were standard for high rollers, but Binion made them available to all.

Most will remember Benny Binion for his casino with $1,000,000 embedded in a plastic case and ultimately for his hand in the creation of the WSOP. However there was much more that met the eye with this iconic Texan gambler. Unfortunately it was coupled with a violent past.