Life & Legacy

''Getting to Know Moe: A Racket Boss Reborn''

By John L. Smith

If modern Las Vegas has a founding father worthy of the title, it isn’t Ben Siegel or some blood-spattered tough guy, but an infinitely savvier fellow named Morris Barney Dalitz. Those who knew him well called him Moe.

Las Vegans called him an important casino operator, developer, and philanthropist. Although they never proved a criminal case against him, mob cops and FBI men called Dalitz a major racket boss, Teamsters Pension Fund loan conduit, and “first among equals” peer of Meyer Lansky.

If one measures success not only by worldly possessions, but also by the ability to enjoy them, then Dalitz was a casino king on a scale Lansky could only envy from the shadows. At the height of Dalitz’s financial power and political influence, he had the endorsement of senators and governors and and had amassed a substantial fortune that landed him on the list of the Forbes 400. Unlike Lansky, who could only sneak into Las Vegas to enjoy his investments in places like the Flamingo and Sands, Dalitz strolled the Desert Inn’s green-felt casino floor and country club fairways as the owner of record and the man in charge.

Along the way, Dalitz helped make multimillionaires of several devoted apprentices and partners, men who built their fortunes not on the casino floor, but by building homes and creating hit television series. Although some preferred to downplay Dalitz’s influence due to the notoriety that shadowed him, he was an essential patron who’d understood the strength of diversification.

His life was riddled with contradiction. The loving father and charitable soft touch was also a man who was influenced and at times intimidated by the Chicago Outfit. The soft-spoken little man also hunted mountain lions for sport from his ranch in southern Utah. Dalitz could have afforded a fleet of limousines, but in his later years he drove himself around town in a canary-yellow Volkswagen Bug.

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The Mob Museum

Mob Museum

National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement

Moe Dalitz is featured in the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, commonly referred to as the Mob Museum. Located in the previous courthouse in the old Las Vegas downtown, the museum showcases both sides of the battle between organized crime and law enforcement in the US.

At the museum you can see many of Moe’s personal effects, from his WWII dogtags to the Las Vegas “key to the city.”

To learn more about the Museum’s collection, visit:

Mob Museum

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Oral History

The following Oral History was given by Moe Dalitz to an unknown interviewer in the 1970s. We are sharing it because it gives a sense of how Dalitz spoke about his life in Las Vegas and his earlier bootlegging and illegal gambling years.


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A Rare Interview with Moe Dalitz

"Well, it was at this time that we formed a partnership with Wilbur Clark. He already laid the footings and came out of the ground with the hotel section; and its motif might be termed as "modern ranch" with the big, long front porch and the redwood chairs.

We slightly changed his thinking and he agreed that we might become a little more modern than his original plan. And the Desert Inn took on a--a look that was in keeping with the West and the open spaces and the desert, but slightly departing from the wagon wheel, old West architecture. It became popular, and we served great food.

We moved our food people from Ohio to Nevada and opened the first gourmet restaurant of any that existed in any of the hotels. The name of it was the Monte Carlo Room, and it was of French decor with crystal glassware and deluxe service plates and so forth. It became very popular; and the Desert Inn from the day it opened attracted the tourists that demanded a luxury hotel."

Kefauver Hearings

Kefauver Hearing

Kefauver Testimony



The CHAIRMAN. I understand not all of them because some of them are very profitable. As a matter of fact, you have been making a great deal of money in recent years, so I suppose from your profits from one investment you would then go ahead and make another investment. Now, to get your investments started off you did get yourself a pretty good little nest egg out of rum running, didn't you?

Mr. DALITZ. Well, I didn't inherit any money, Senator.

The CHAIRMAN. In order to buy an interest in a good many of these companies you had to have money from somewhere; that is true, is it not?

Mr. DALITZ. Senator, I went into the laundry business a long time after all of that. I was in the laundry business before that and after that. I have been in that business all my life, practically.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, you were indicted on some barge deal in 1934, were you not?

Mr. DALITZ. That is news to me.

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