Mayor urges Vegas to embrace Mob culture

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London has its dungeons to commemorate medieval torture, and Rome its catacombs in memory of the early Christian martyrs. So why shouldn't Las Vegas inaugurate a museum to recall its long entanglement with organised crime?

A Mob museum is the latest brainchild of Las Vegas's Mayor, Oscar Goodman, formerly a defence lawyer for some of the city's most notorious gangsters. He thinks it will be a great success – an offer, as one local put it, that visitors to the city won't be able to refuse. "I think it would draw people like a magnet," Mr Goodman told reporters.

With a client list that ranged from Meyer Lansky, the Vegas Mob's top financier, to Tony "the Ant" Spilotro, an enforcer whose reputed exploits include squeezing the eyeballs out of a rival's head using a vice, Mayor Goodman has no lack of experience with the subject. He said he would gladly contribute items from his personal collection, including a tape of a Mafia induction ceremony.

The idea is not without controversy, however, particularly since the building being considered for the museum is a disused former courthouse.

Fearing intervention by the authorities, Mayor Goodman said he had meant "a mop museum". A spokesman, Erik Pappa, said the project may be expanded to a general history museum. But the Mob would still feature strongly. "You can't look at the history of Las Vegas and ignore the impact of organised crime," he said.