Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'Lefty' Rosenthal dies in Florida at 79

Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who once supervised mob gambling rackets in Las Vegas, died of a heart attack Monday night at his Florida home, according to a story by Mary Manning of the Las Vegas Sun and a report by Fox5 Las Vegas. He was 79 years old.

Authorities believe Rosenthal (left), a Chicago native (born June 12, 1929), secretly supervised the Stardust, Fremont and Hacienda casinos for an underworld consortium that included the Chicago Outfit. He worked closely with the Outfit's enforcer in Las Vegas, Anthony "the Ant" Spilotro. The activities of the two men were depicted in the fictionalized movie Casino, with Robert DeNiro playing the role of Sam Rothstein (Rosenthal) and Joe Pesci playing Nicky Santoro (Spilotro). Spilotro, like his movie representation, was murdered by underworld associates. Rosenthal barely escaped a similar end.

In 1982, Rosenthal survived an apparent mob hit in a parking lot outside a restaurant at 600 E. Sahara Avenue. His 1981 Cadillac Eldorado exploded around him. Rosenthal suffered no serious injuries, but was burned on his legs, his left arm and the left side of his face. He refused to sign a police incident report or to cooperate in an investigation.
Rosenthal's forte was sports handicapping, and he is credited with pioneering lucrative sports gambling in Vegas. Between 1976 and 1988, Rosenthal battled with Nevada gaming authorities to obtain a state gaming license. The Nevada Gaming Commission banned him from casinos in the state in 1988, when it put him into the "Black Book" officially known as the List of Excluded Persons.
A planned "Mob" museum in Las Vegas is expected to feature items from Rosenthal's career. Current Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, once a Rosenthal attorney, said he would speak about his former client today (Wednesday, Oct. 15).

Rosenthal's writeup in the Black Book states: "Rosenthal was suspected of overseeing a Las Vegas casino on behalf of organized crime interests and directing the skimming of funds from the casino. In 1982, Rosenthal survived a car bombing in a failed attempt on his life. In 1991, the Nevada Supreme Court upheld Rosenthal's listing in the Black Book. Rosenthal now resides in Florida, the book and movie "Casino" chronicles his life."

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.