Las Vegas Goes To The Mob

As part of an effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, Sin City is putting the spotlight on mobsters with a proposed museum of organized crime and law enforcement.

The theme was picked after a poll of 300 tourists voted 70 percent in favor of the idea over three competing concepts. Other options including a behind-the-scenes look at gambling, a museum on magic or a museum dedicated to Vegas icons such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

The (redacted) Museum: The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement is expected to open in spring 2010 at the site of the former federal courthouse and attract as many as 800,000 visitors each year.

Along with the unveiling of the museum’s name Sept. 30, logos resembling court documents with material blacked out – including covering the word “mob” in the museum title with “redacted” – were also shown off. City council members passed out T-shirts that said: “There is no such thing as a mob museum nor have I ever been there.”

“I don’t think anybody is able to do tongue-in-cheek the way Las Vegas can do it,” said Mayor Oscar Goodman, a former criminal defense lawyer who represented organized crime figures.

Rather than glorifying organized crime, city officials say the museum will examine its influence on Las Vegas, how law enforcers worked to cut out illegal influences from gambling, how mob operations were connected through cities across the country and famous hearings on organized crime.

The FBI is even giving the thumbs up to the museum, promising to lend organized crime artifacts for displays. The former head of the Las Vegas FBI office, Ellen Knowlton, is the chairwoman of the museum board.