I LOVE CSI: Las Vegas, but are the casinos out there still funding the mafia, organised crime,.. and, ultmately who funds the production of CSI: Las Vegas? Am I unwittingly endorsing indirect funding of the Italian/Sicilan Mafia?

I am not sure if you are kidding … but assuming that the question is honest ….

Having grown up in Las Vegas (since the early ‘70s), I have witnessed a remarkable change in the way Las Vegas casinos are funded. Interestingly enough, the movie “Casino” with Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone was fairly accurate. Originally, casinos were generally (not in all cases) funded by organized crime. The concept of Las Vegas, with legalized gambling and prostitution, was wonderful for the “Boys” (as mobsters were then known), as it was essentially a city with legalized crime (gambling and prostitution remain criminal activities in most parts of the country to this day). Las Vegas was fiercely protected by the Boys. Until recent times, all of the murders and headline-grabbing atrocities occurred elsewhere (such as New York and Chicago), as the families had an unspoken agreement that no adverse attention would be brought to Vegas (and the profits it brings). They did not want to ruin a good thing.

Enter Steve Wynn in the ‘80s, who came up with a plan to fund a big Vegas Strip hotel on junk bonds. This was a radical departure, and was very risky both financially and physically to Wynn. Nevertheless, his plan succeeded and changed the way hotels are developed in Las Vegas to this day. Today, it is highly unlikely that organized crime controls even a minor stake in any of the large hotels. Corporate conglomerates have taken over, and the landscape has radically changed. The fact that some of the corporations trace their origins to individuals with organized crime affiliation is a topic for another discussion.

Funding for television shows (such as CSI) generally comes from the studio that produces the series. Sometimes, the producer and/or and investment group affiliated with the producer funds the pilot, and has participation in the series. I really do not know which applies to CSI, but organized crime certainly has little to do with it.

So enjoy your television shows without "mafia" guilt. 🙂

Filed under: Italian mafia

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