Las Vegas and Casino Icon Dies, Aged 79Published October 20, 2008 by OCR Editor
Frank Lefty Rosenthal was the inspiration for Robert de Niro's character in the 1995 film Casino.
Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, the former Las Vegas kingpin and inspiration for Robert de Niro's character in the 1995 film Casino, died last Monday, aged 79.
Rosenthal died of a heart attack in his Miami Beach condo, a Fire-rescue spokesperson said.
The former Chicago bookmaker, who Sports Illustrated named "the greatest living expert on sports gambling", ran four Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s and 1980s - the Stardust, Fremont, Hacienda and Marina. He is widely credited with bringing sports betting to Las Vegas during that period.
However, he was later barred from casinos because of his alleged mafia ties.
"Lefty" grew up in Chicago, where he honed his skills through illegal bookmaking operations. He received his nickname after appearing before a Senate investigation into gambling an organized crime in which he invoked 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination 37 times, and refused to answer even simple questions such as whether he was left-handed.
Rosenthal moved to Las Vegas in 1968, where he was a member of staff at the Stardust Hotel and Casino In 1974 he was placed in control of the Stardust and three other casinos owned by the Argent Corporation, by the Mafiosi who controlled the pension fund for the Teamsters union, which had financed Argent's purchase of the Stardust.
In 1982, "Lefty's" career in Vegas ended when a car bomb almost took his life. He retired to Miami, where he lived until his death on Monday.