Bright lights, spinning roulette wheels, underworld drama, and crazy events are all a part of life in Las Vegas. The gambling capital of the world has seen some dramatic moments in its history, from the tragic to the fantastic. From across the years, here is Top10Casinos.com's take on ten of the wildest things that ever happened in Las Vegas history.
There have been plenty of daredevil riders over the years, and Australia's Robbie Maddison is one of the best known of recent times (earning himself the nickname Maddo). He's performed a number of fantastic feats in Las Vegas, often around New Year's Eve, and his record-breaking motorbike jump in 2007 beat the previous record by over 45 feet. One of his stunts that particularly stands out was when the Arc de Triomphe replica (in the Paris casino) was transformed into the landing pad of a motorbike jump.
The Arc de Triomphe is 96 feet high, but the act of jumping onto its summit was only the first half of a particularly wild stunt. After this, Maddo proceeded to ride off. The Arc de Triomphe, history and architecture enthusiasts will realize, is not noted for its helpful ramps. Instead of a gentle decline, Maddo dropped 60 feet after riding off the top and came close to missing the landing zone. How dangerous was it? Well, asked afterwards the Aussie admitted he wouldn't do it again even if he were offered $10m.
The Mob has a long history in Las Vegas, and one very notable event was when long term mobster Frank Cullotta turned his coat and became a witness for the defense. Cullotta had been in the city since 1979, joining his long term criminal colleague and friend Tony Spilotro. In that same year Cullotta showed his friendship wasn't a bar to extreme violence when he killed Sherwin Lisner, a former friend, because he feared Lisner was an informant (ironic, given how future events would play out).
In 1981 Cullotta was arrested after a failed robbery, as was the Hole in the Wall Gang of which he was a part. A second arrest came the following year, and with it came an offer to turn defense witness. The fact there was a recording of Spilotro speaking of cleaning laundry (perhaps killing Cullotta) was quite persuasive. He went on to confess to more than 300 crimes and testified against Spilotro, but, despite this, his former friend was acquitted. Instead it was Cullotta who ended up with an eight year prison sentence.
Throughout her career, Britney Spears has made the headlines, whether it's for smashing into the number one spot around the world with her debut single or, more recently, disputing her father's right to control her estate. It's rather sad that that legal dispute has lasted rather longer than her Las Vegas marriage did.
In 2004, back when a pandemic and financial crisis were ancient history, Spears married Jason Allen Alexander, a childhood friend, at A Little White Wedding Chapel, site of many a swift celebrity marriage. In retrospect, the quickie marriage followed by an annulment within just 55 hours was perhaps a sign of things to come, but at the time it was just another daft celebrity story of someone with more money than sense. Luckily in the real world this usually only happens with new no deposit bonus casinos. The court petition stating that she 'lacked understanding of her actions' lends some credence to the sense of foreboding... In any event, she later married Kevin Federline, divorcing a few years later, to whom she lost physical custody of her children in 2007.
It's not exactly a secret that the Mafia has had its share of dealings in Las Vegas with many notorious gambling gangsters. Bundles of cash and casinos fit in pretty well with an underworld lifestyle, and modus operandi, so both personal and 'business' entanglements have been numerous over the years. One of the best known Las Vegas USA Casino events was the rise and decline of The Flamingo, and the price that was paid.
Bugsy Siegel was a Mafia hardcase who had been a co-founder of Murder Inc. He was tasked with opening The Flamingo in December 1946, but the reception wasn't great because construction was ongoing and the noise didn't exactly please the guests. In a fortnight the resort lost over a quarter of a million dollars and it shut down in January 1947. Although it reopened and started making money, the Mob bosses weren't satisfied, despite the pleadings of Siegel's long term friend and underworld ally Meyer Lansky. It was in June (in California) that Siegel was shot dead. Legally, the cause and culprit(s) remain unknown, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to put the pieces together.
Las Vegas is a place where fortunes are made, and lost, won, and, occasionally, robbed. Our tale starts right back in 1993. One of the Loomis armored trucks filled with cash for ATMs was going about its business, and Scott Stewart was in the back. Something like $3m, give or take, was in the back of the truck. Also in the truck was Heather Tallchief, a newer member of the security team who would collect and deliver real cash from the US casinos in the area. She was in the driving seat, in both a literal and figurative sense. But when Stewart and another courier came back from delivering cash to one particular ATM, the truck was nowhere to be seen.
Tallchief had done a runner, unbeknownst to her colleagues who were initially concerned for her safety. She and her boyfriend had taken a charter flight out, and while investigators got some clues they were never within touching distance. The reason why soon became apparent: the boyfriend was Roberto Solis, a career criminal with a knack for going to ground. The crime was unsolved, the money unrecovered, the robbers got clean away. Until, out of the blue and 12 years later, Tallchief handed herself in. She accused her boyfriend of brainwashing her and got a sentence of five years.
The city today has many magnificent tourist hotspots, from the bright lights and glitzy casinos on the Strip to visiting the various museums and heading out of town to admire the stark natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. But in the 1950s there was a seriously grim brand of tourist destination that almost beggars belief to read (and write) about today. Visible from downtown hotels were the mushroom clouds of nearby nuclear tests.
And it wasn't only the mushroom clouds that indicated mankind's most potent weapons were being tested: Las Vegas also had seismic activity following the nukes going off. And yet, far from scaring off visitors, the possibility of viewing nuclear detonations and the mushroom clouds ended up drawing tourists. Sounds crazy, but the sad legacy is that, as you might expect, the prolific testing of atomic weapons led to a significant spike in various cancers in the area. It turns out that nuclear detonations aren't good for your health, however pretty the clouds look.
Even today, Evel Knievel is the epitome of daredevils, willing to take huge risks to entertain crowds and perform stunning, and potentially lethal, feats of bravery. Inspired as a boy by the Joie Chitwood show, but preferring motorbikes to cars, Knievel started small, acting as his own MC, promoter, and box office. But it wasn't long before he started hiring help and making his name with stunts that caught the public eye, including riding his motorbike off a jump over 15 cars.
After visiting Las Vegas to watch some boxing, Knievel saw the fountains of Caesars Palace and decided they'd be ideal for his next jump. Through some shenanigans including fictitious lawyers and a pretend corporation he managed to persuade the casino CEO to give the green light to the stunt. Luck was not on his side. As he approached the jump Knievel felt the bike decelerate unexpectedly and had to land on the safety ramp but he still skidded off and suffered a crushed pelvis and femur and rumor (denied by his wife) had it that he ended up in a coma for almost a month.
Las Vegas has a certain reputation for live concerts and other entertainment that's dazzling and dangerous, flamboyant and glamorous. When people visit the bright lights and experience the excitement of the casino they want the live performances to be just as thrilling. For many years one of the top shows in the city was provided by a pair of German-American entertainers: Siegfried & Roy. This colorful duo were best known for appearing with white lions and white tigers, but their amazing stage act came to an abrupt and violent end one day.
Before moving to Vegas the pair had performed on cruise ships and at nightclubs across Europe, and they became US citizens in 1988. Fifteen years later, tragedy struck as Montecore, a seven year old white tiger, attacked Roy, biting his neck and dragging the performer offstage. His life was staged by staff spraying the beast with fire extinguishers, but Roy suffered a severed spine and serious blood loss, as well as a stroke at some stage during the attack. Although he survived, Roy had a combination of impaired motor and verbal functions and the show was cancelled.
Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the world, and many a gambler has gone there seeking the largest jackpots. As is the way of things, many have come back empty handed while others have enjoyed the affection of Lady Luck to make some money. But few have ever won as much, or risked as much, as Ashley Revell. Born in the United Kingdom, in Kent, Revell caught the imagination of both the betting world and the popular press when he took a huge risk.
The line between bravery and stupidity can be a thin one, and any gambler knows it's easy to rue a decision. Revell's move was particularly high stakes. In 2004 he sold everything he owned, even his clothes, and flew across the Atlantic to Las Vegas. His possessions had sold for $135,000, and he visited the Plaza Hotel & Casino. Revell placed the sum total of his life savings on a single spin of a roulette wheel. Red, and he doubled his money. Black, and he would be left with nothing. Red showed up, and he ended up with $270,000.
This notorious bout of bitter sporting rivals was not the first time that Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield had met one another in the ring. At the previous encounter Tyson was the favorite, defending his title belt against ex-champion Holyfield, who won a surprise victory. This made the sequel a hotly anticipated event on purely boxing grounds, but what actually happened was wilder than anyone could have reasonably imagined.
Tyson was undoubtedly a talented boxer, but his moral credentials were perhaps not quite so burnished. Holyfield dominated the match early on, controlling the contest much as he had at their first meeting. Come round three, Holyfield had Tyson in a clinch, only for Tyson to react by biting his opponent's ear and spitting an inch of cartilage onto the canvas. After a brief delay the bout resumed, but a second clinch led to a second ear bite from Tyson on Holyfield and he was duly disqualified. It was the first title bout disqualification for more than half a century and Tyson lost his boxing license (though it was later restored to him). The pair did, however, become friends in retirement.
We've seen robbery, murder, daredevil stunts, and even a tiger attack on this top ten list of the wildest things that ever happened in Las Vegas, not to mention nuclear tourism. Hopefully if you visit the city things will be a little on the quieter side, though if you're staying at home definitely make sure to try out these USA no deposit bonus casinos.