Sinatra versus Nevada gaming regulators |

Sinatra versus Nevada gaming regulators

by Guy Clifton
Travel Nevada

The story of Frank Sinatra and his Nevada gaming license has all the makings of a Hollywood classic, with fame, fortune, the Mob, shady characters and straight shooters all in the mix.

It is also the subject of this month’s American Gaming Archives Fireside Chat at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno.

The event is 5-6:30 p.m. today, starting with a wine-and-cheese reception at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; free for Nevada Historical Society members and children 17 and younger. For details, call 775-688-1190.

“The Frank Sinatra Saga, Part One – the Revocation Hearing that Nevada Came to be,” centers on Sinatra and the attempted revocation of his gaming license when he owned the Cal Nevada Lodge at Crystal Bay in the early 1960s. The chat features longtime Northern Nevada journalist, writer and editor Guy W. Farmer along with historians Michael Fischer and Howard Herz.

Key subjects of the talk include Sinatra; Sam Giancana, the Chicago underworld figure who was listed in Nevada’s “Black Book” of banned gamblers; and Phyllis McGuire, Giancana’s girlfriend and a noted performer of the era as part of the McGuire Sisters act that played at the Cal Neva and other Nevada resorts.

Farmer, who served as the public information officer for the Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board, is the only person still alive who was on the phone when Sinatra called Ed Olsen at the Gaming Commission on Labor Day weekend in 1963. The call started out pleasantly enough, with Sinatra trying to schmooze Olsen, but later turned hostile and profane.

Another Sinatra encounter with Nevada gaming regulators will be the subject of another AGA Fireside Chat in October.

The Nevada Historical Society is located at 1650 N. Virginia St., Reno on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early as seating is limited. For information, call 775-688-1190.