Flamingo Hilton spokesman Terry Lindberg said in 1996: “The Bugsy image was not something that was particularly endearing to the Flamingo or Hilton”

Accepting the past can be difficult, especially when it involves murder and mobsters.

When the Flamingo turned 50 in 1996, there was no celebration, no fanfare to mark the occasion, no public recognition of the resort’s origins and its ties to Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and the mob.

Las Vegas was in the midst of a culture shift. The era of mob rule had come to an end by the mid-1980s. Megaresorts such as The Mirage, Treasure Island and Luxor were opening all over the Strip, and Las Vegas was growing ever conscious of its public image.

“The Bugsy image was not something that was particularly endearing to the Flamingo or Hilton,” Flamingo Hilton spokesman Terry Lindberg said in 1996, the Las Vegas Sun reported at the time. “This was not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. We’re talking about a robber, rapist and murderer. Those are not endearing qualities. We want to remember the history of the Flamingo without glamorizing it. We’ve made a conscious decision to distance ourselves from the Bugsy heritage.”

Undeniable part of history

A quarter-century later as the hotel commemorates its 75th anniversary, those sentiments are changing.

The famous resort isn’t outright celebrating the mobsters who opened the resort, but there’s now some level of recognition of those origins.

In 2020, the resort unveiled the new Bugsy and Meyer’s Steakhouse, a throwback-style restaurant named after those two mobsters, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. There’s even a memorial plaque to Siegel that now sits in the resort’s famed flamingo habitat.

“I think it’s just that it’s acknowledging the true history of the Flamingo. It’s an undeniable part of the history, and it’s something that’s unique to Flamingo, and leaning into that and sharing it we thought was appropriate. Certainly not condoning the method of operations, but it is a part of the history of the Flamingo,” said Sean McBurney, president of regional operations for Caesars Entertainment, the current operators of the resort.

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