Wise Guy

Talking Old Vegas with a Former Mobster

UD - Vincent Spilotro When you’re opening a gangster museum in Vegas, you work with the real deal. Or his son. That’s why the Las Vegas Mob Experience—in previews now—consulted Vincent Spilotro, son and driver to the man who inspired Joe Pesci’s character in Casino. Naturally, he has a few stories to tell...

UD: Most people know your dad as Joe Pesci in Casino. How accurate was the movie?
VS: It’s funny, for the Mob Experience, we went through the movie Casino, bit by bit, and it was more or less 80% wrong.

UD: What did they get wrong?
VS: Just, everything. They had me as a 6-year-old kid when I was really 18. And the scene where Nicky [Joe Pesci’s character] gets hopped up on coke and fires on the police’s houses? That was 100% wrong. I was there the night that happened, and they were the ones who fired on us. They put some slugs into the drywall behind my washing machine. Same bullets the police use. I pulled them out myself.

UD: Sounds like a typical laundry night. Well, we have to ask: did you ever meet Sinatra?
VS: A couple times. I can’t say I was a friend of his, but if you’re always out at the same places, you get to know each other. In those days, there was also a place called State Street that was run by the guy who got beat up by James Caan in The Godfather. That was the place to find Sinatra and all those guys.

UD: What kind of comps did you get?
VS: Anything I wanted, really. I got a suite at the top floor of Caesars, drinks. I got to run the place. I could go to any restaurant, buy any piece of art. That’s how it was back then. Nowadays, they’ll treat you like that if you bring enough money.

UD: What was Vegas like in the old days?
VS: Back then, people stayed away from big stars like Sinatra. You were able to walk up, maybe get one or two autographs, but then you’d let the man eat. People like him and Dean Martin, they could go have a meal out. Not anymore.

UD: Do you have any favorite spots that aren’t around anymore?
VS: It’s funny, I was actually part of the team that had to demo the original Bugsy Siegel Suite at the Flamingo. And there were little access ways, and secret doors where you would push a wall and be in another room. There would be a staircase down into nowhere, things like that. But then we just tore it down. I don’t know why they wouldn’t keep it as something you could at least walk through, but they didn’t.


Vincent Spilotro
of the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana

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