Frank Lawrence “Lefty” Rosenthal (1929 – 2008) was a bookmaker and casino executive in Las Vegas. He is famous for his sports betting skills, for his ties to organized crime, and for his involvement in casino skimming, game fixing and past-posting illegal boomaking.
The movie Casino, directed by Martin Scorcese, was inspired by the life of Frank Rosenthal.
Young Frank Rosenthal
Frank Rosenthal was born in Chicago in 1929 and grew up in the West Side area of the city. He would often skip school to attend sporting events, and he learned about sports betting at Wringley Field, a baseball park in the North Side of Chicago. One of his friends was Anthony John Spilotro.
When Frank Rosenthal was in his mid 20s, he was working for the Chicago Outfit, an Italian-American crime syndicate based in Chicago. He eventually came to be running the largest illegal bookmaking operation in the whole United States, on behalf of the mob.
To improve profits for the mob, Frank Rosenthal arranged for bribes to be paid to fix sporting events. The mob-controlled Cicero Home Improvement Company in Cicero, Illinois was used as a front for the operations.
Frank Rosenthal moves to Miami
Frank Rosenthal was indicted as a co-conspirator on multiple sports bribery charges in Illinois and decided to move to North Bay Village in Miami, Florida. Even though the plan was to avoid attention, he was often seen in the company of Chicago Outfit members in Miami, including infamous characters such as Jackie Cerone and Fiore Buccieri.
By the early 1960’s, Rosenthal was known nation wide for his odds making and handicapping abilities. He was accused of match fixing and subpoenaed to appear before the U.S. Senator John McClellan’s subcommittee on Gambling and Organized Crime, but invoked the Fifth Amendment and was never actually charged of match fixing. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects a person against being compelled to be a witness against himself or herself in a criminal case.
Even though he wasn’t convicted of match fixing, Rosenthal was banned from racing establishments in Florida. He was arrested numerous times for boomaking and other forms of gambling law violations, and in 1963 he was finally convicted after pleading no contest to bribing a New York University player to shave points for a college basketball game in North Carolina.
In the 1960s, Rosenthal was investigated as a suspect in several bomb attacks against business in the greater Miami area and also for multiple car bombings. The FBI file on Rosenthal eventually came to include over 300 pages.
Frank Rosenthal moves to Las Vegas
In 1968, Frank Rosenthal moved to Las Vegas, since the attention from legal authorities in Florida had become to intense. He kept working for the Chicago Outfit, and secretly ran the Hacienda Casino, Stardust Casino, Fremont Casino and Marina Casino for them. Rosenthal also broke new ground by establishing a sports book that operated within a casino, more specifically within the Stardust Casino. Soon, the Stardust casino was one of the main sports betting centers of not just Las Vegas but for the country as a whole. Rosenthal was also a trailblazer in other ways. He did for instance hire female blackjack dealers instead of letting it remain a male profession. Within a year, Stardust’s income had doubled.
Two examples of highly successful sports bettor that worked for Rosenthal were Marty Kane and Joey Boston, who would yield big profits on fixed games.
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In the mid-1970’s, Nevada authorities held a hearing to determine Frank Rosenthal’s legal ability to receive a Nevada gaming license, since it had become evident that he was actually the one running several of the Las Vegas casinos. The hearing, headed by Senator Harry Reid, concluded that Rosenthal would not be able to obtain a gaming license. His reputation was too tarnished due to this association with the Chicago outfit, including his friendship with the mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro.
In October 1982, a car bomb attached to the gasoline tank of Frank Rosenthal’s 1981 Cadillac Eldorado exploded as Rosenthal started the engine. Fortunately for Rosenthal, a metal plate under his seat shielded him enough to save his life. This metal plate had been installed by General Motors to correct a balancing problem with the car. No one was ever charged for the assassination attempt.
A few months after the assassination attempt, Rosenthal moved from Nevada to California, where he settled in Laguna Niguel. Laguna Niguel is an affluent master-planned community in Orange County.
It wasn’t until 1987 – several years after his move from Las Vegas – that Rosenthal was included in the “List of Excluded Persons” and thereby banned from entering Nevada casinos. In 1988, this ban was temporarily lifted, but Rosenthal never managed to get back to his former role. At this point, Las Vegas was not the same city as it has been during the peak of Rosenthal’s illegal career.
Back to Florida
As he grew older, Frank Rosenthal returned to Florida. After living for a while in Boca Raton, he settled in Miami Beach. He worked as a consultant for several offshore sports betting companies and also ran his own sports betting site, as well as hosting a radio show.
Frank Rosenthal died in Miami Beach on October 13, 2008. He was 79 years old and no foul play was suspected in his death. At the time of this demise, he was a resident of the Fontainebleau’s Tresor Tower.
Wife and children
Frank Rosenthal and Geri McGeen married on May 4, 1969. Geri McGeen (1936 – 1982) grew up in Sherman Oaks, California but moved to Las Vegas in the late 1950’s, where she worked as a cocktail waitress and showgirl.
Geri and Frank had two children, Steven Rosenthal and Stephanie Rosenthal. Geri also had a daughter, Robin Marmor (b. 1958), from a previous relationship with high school sweetheart Lenny Marmor.
The Rosenthal marriage eventually became strained, since Frank expected Geri to remain in the home while Geri herself missed the casino life. Geri started partying a lot with drugs and alcohol, and kept it up even though Frank threatened to divorce her and take custody of the children. They both began dating other people, and Geri entered into a romantic relationship with Anthony Spilotro.
In 1981, the Rosenthal’s divorce was finalized.
The failed car-bomb assassination attempt against Frank took place in October 1982. At this point, Geri was no longer living in Las Vegas – Los Angeles was her new home. On November 6, Geri was found heavily drugged in the lobby of the Beverly Sunset Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Her blood contained a deadly mix of cocaine, diazepam and alcohol.
Geri never recovered, and died on November 9. The coroner put accidental overdose as cause of death, but her sister Barbara claimed that Geri knew “too much” about illegal activities in Las Vegas and had been murdered by the same people that put the bomb in Frank’s car. An alternative theory that surfaced was that Frank believed Geri to have ordered his assassination, and therefore had her killed either as retaliation or simply to protect himself from further assassination attempts from his ex-wife.