Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas

Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas

5.0 1
by David G. Schwartz
     
 
Jay Sarno built two path-breaking Las Vegas casinos, Caesars Palace (1966) and Circus Circus (1968), and planned but did not build a third, the Grandissimo, which would have started the mega-resort era a decade before Steve Wynn built The Mirage. As mobsters and accountants battled for the soul of the last American frontier town, Las Vegas had endless possibilities-if

Overview

Jay Sarno built two path-breaking Las Vegas casinos, Caesars Palace (1966) and Circus Circus (1968), and planned but did not build a third, the Grandissimo, which would have started the mega-resort era a decade before Steve Wynn built The Mirage. As mobsters and accountants battled for the soul of the last American frontier town, Las Vegas had endless possibilities-if you didn't mind high stakes and stiff odds. Sarno invented the modern Las Vegas casino, but he was part of a dying breed-a back-pocket entrepreneur who'd parlayed a jones for action and a few Teamster loans into a life as a Vegas casino owner.

For all of his accomplishments, his empire didn't last. Sarno sold out of Caesars Palace shortly after it opened-partially to get away from the bookies and gangsters who'd taken over the casino-and he was forced to relinquish control of Circus Circus when the federal government indicted him on charges of offering the largest bribe in IRS history-a bribe he freely admitted paying, on the advice of his attorney, Oscar Goodman. Though he ultimately walked out of court a free man, he never got Circus back. And though he guessed the formula that would open up Las Vegas to millions in the 1990s with the design of the Grandissimo, but he wasn't able to secure the financing for the casino, and when he died in 1984, it remained only a frustrating dream.

Sarno's casinos--and his ideas about how to build casinos--created the template for Las Vegas today. Before him, Las Vegas meant dealers in string ties and bland, functional architecture. He taught the city how to dress up its hotels in fantasy, putting toga dresses on cocktail waitresses and making sure that even the stationery carried through with the theme. He saw Las Vegas as a place where ordinary people could leave their ordinary lives and have extraordinary adventures. And that remains the template for Las Vegas today.

Grandissimo is the story of how Jay Sarno won and lost his casino empire, inventing modern Las Vegas along the way.

In Grandissimo, you'll learn Jay's fascinating story, and also plenty of things you never knew about Las Vegas, including:

- the true story about how Jimmy Hoffa's Teamsters Union first started funding Sarno projects

-how Steve Wynn ended up answering the telephone in Hoffa's suite on the second day Caesars Palace was open

- how Sarno, represented by Oscar Goodman, beat a seemingly-airtight case against him when he was accused of offering the largest bribe in IRS history to an undercover agent

- how Sarno's unbuilt Grandissimo became the template for the 1990s "mega-resort" era in Las Vegas

From start to finish, it's the story of the man who inspired modern Las Vegas.

Editorial Reviews

former mayor of Las Vegas and Sarnos attorney - Oscar Goodman
This is a great book, one of the best about Las Vegas. With realism that jumps off the page, Schwartz tells the real, unvarnished story of one of the genuine visionaries of Las Vegas. Jay Sarno helped to make Las Vegas what it is today, and this book tells you how he did it.
author of Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling - Beth Raymer
David G. Schwartz is our most gifted chronicler of Las Vegas history. Grandissimo is a riveting story not only of an eccentric and ambitious visionary but of Sin City at the crossroads.
Las Vegas Review-Journal - John L. Smith
Schwartz has managed to capture the indefatigable spirit and wonderfully messy life of the great Las Vegas casino man Jay Sarno in his affectionate but unflinching biography Grandissimo. It is a must-read for anyone who loves the real history of Las Vegas.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940148665472
Publisher:
Winchester Books
Publication date:
10/03/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
326
Sales rank:
376,044
File size:
15 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

David G. Schwartz, the Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has written or edited seven books about gambling and Las Vegas. An Atlantic City native with hands-on experience in the casino industry, Schwartz has been at UNLV since 2001.

In addition to being an active consultant and speaker, Schwartz is Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine, where he writes the biweekly �Green Felt Journal� column and regular feature and long-form pieces about gambling, history, and hospitality in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

Schwartz earned his bachelor�s degree (a double major in anthropology and history) as well as his master�s degree (American History) from the University of Pennsylvania before receiving his doctorate in US History from UCLA. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.

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Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grandissimo is the incredibly engaging story of Jay Sarno who more than anyone else set the stage for the modern Las Vegas Strip. His Ceasars Palace was the forerunner of the modern megacasino. He was a man of great vision and great faults which Dave Schwartz captures with an eye for detail and a knowledge of Vegas history that is second to none. If you love Vegas, you owe it to yourself to read this book.