Dalitz (Morris Dalitz) was born Dec. 24, 1899, in Boston.
In the 1940's Moe served his country by joining the Army, rising to
the rank of second lieutenant. When the war ended, he migrated to Las
Vegas, where casino games were legal and gamblers were men of respect.
led a group of Cleveland investors which included Morris Kleinman, Thomas
McGinty, and Sam Tucker. They purchased the Desert Inn, which was still
under construction, and they opened it on April 24, 1950.
The Desert Inn was a huge smash, and it was the swankiest spot on the
Las Vegas Strip for many years.
He was a 13.2% owner of the Desert Inn. His longtime partners, Morris
Kleinman and Ruby Kolod, each held a similar percentage. Wilbur Clark,
the Desert Inn's co-founder who was not originally a member of Moe’s
Cleveland group, held 17.1%.
Wilbur Clark may have been the largest holder of the Desert Inn, however
it was Moe who called the shots. It has also been said that Wilbur ran
everything but the casino.
Moe not only was an experienced casino operator, he also understood
that gamblers wanted more than gambling. He then gave them the Desert
Inn Country Club. It was a world class 18 hole beauty. Moe then created
the Tournament of Champions golf tournament, which focused a positive
national spotlight on Las Vegas.
1958, Moe and his associates used millions in loans to take over the
Stardust from a group led by Jake Factor. The new crew of experienced
casino operators turned the Stardust into a success. The first few things
they did: expand the casino area, add more hotel rooms, and brought
in a Parisian-style floorshow.
Moe was also a driving force behind Pat McCarran, one of Nevada's most
powerful U.S. senators. It was Moe who pushed McCarran to publicly fight
a huge federal tax on sports betting, eventually reducing a wagering
surcharge to a paltry quarter of 1% from more than 10%.
Moe and his partners used a $1 million loan in 1959 to build the Sunrise
Hospital. Moe’s investment dollars flowed into golf course and
shopping mall development during years, in which most lending institutions
laughed at lending money to entrepreneurs from the notorious Las Vegas.
was one of the lucky ones who made the transition from underworld figure
to exemplary citizen. By the time Moe reached his prime, his financial
empire and formidable string of businesses were all legitimate. In his
lifetime of unproven allegations, Moe was only indicted twice. Once
in 1930 in Buffalo, N.Y., for bootlegging. Once in 1965 in Los Angeles
for tax evasion. Both charges were dismissed.
By the late 1970s, Moe was considered a senior member of Las Vegas casino
society. "Moe was always such a gentleman," Las Vegas advertising
executive and longtime friend Mary Martin said. "He gave back to
the community. When the Maude Frazier Building (at UNLV) was built,
it had no furniture. He bought all the furniture and didn't want anybody
to know about it. He was that kind of person he was.
Vegas cab company owner and former Stardust Hotel general manager Herb
Tobman knew Moe well.
"He never turned me down for anything charitable," Tobman
recalled. "I was in awe of meeting him. As far as I'm concerned
he was a great man ... Moe's charity is legendary around this town.
There has never been a greater influence on this city."
Moe was named Humanitarian of the Year by the American Cancer Research
Center and Hospital in 1976. In 1982 he received the Torch of Liberty
Award by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. In 1979 he set
up the Moe Dalitz Charitable Remainder Unitrust, a million-dollar fund
to be divided upon his death.
When Moe died in 1989, 14 nonprofit organizations split a total of $1.3
million. His contributions to Las Vegas were enormous and legendary.
Dalitz is one person I am sorry I never got a chance to meet. I am a
huge fan of him and what he accomplished in Las Vegas throughout his
life. People like Moe are one in a billion and in my humble opinion,
Las Vegas is not better without him one bit.
was so much more than this article shows. If you have insight about
Mr. Moe Dalitz you would like to share - please email me here.
of this article was originally published by the great John L Smith of
the LVRJ. I interjected some of my own thoughts and opinions throughout