A cheap, spiral notebook held great power in Nevada’s gambling world for decades. It contained known U.S. mobsters whose underworld statuses and histories were such that the state gambling authorities didn’t want them anywhere near the Silver State’s casinos. This was a problem as these undesirables frequented major gambling operations in the state.
Nevada had legalized gambling in 1931, but it wasn’t until about two decades later that casinos became under stricter regulatory control, after the creation of two such agencies — first the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) in 1955 and then the Nevada Gaming Commission) in 1959.
Soon after, in 1960, the NGCB created and distributed the book to major casinos along with the state regulation mandating all casinos be operated in a way “suitable to protect the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare of the State of Nevada.” Casinos weren’t to allow the hoodlums in the book into their establishments … under any circumstances … ever.
Failure to comply meant losing their gambling licenses and, thus, ability to run such enterprises. The compilation garnered the name “Black Book,” not because of its sinister connotations but due to its plain black cover. And despite being labeled “Top Secret,” everyone seemed to know about it.
Each mobster in the black book garnered one page, which contained their picture, aliases and FBI file number. Over time, the NGCB deleted names from and added names to the list. The public never knew how and why the gambling regulators chose the undesirables they did for inclusion.
These were the 11 original bad boys in the black book and their primary cities of operation:
• Salvatore Giancana (aka Salvatore Giancana, Sam Giancana, Momo, Mooney, Sam the Cigar, Sammy): a boss from 1957 to 1966
• Llewelyn Morris Humphreys (aka Murray Llewelyn Humphreys, Murray Humphreys, The Camel, The Hump): an alleged lieutenant of Al Capone and Sam Giancana
• Marcello Giuseppe Caifano (aka Johnny Marshall, Marshall Caifano): an overseer of mob-controlled casinos in Las Vegas who was suspected of numerous murders
• Nicholas Civella (aka Nick Civella): a mob boss (brother of Carl Civella)
• Carl James Civella (aka Cork): in charge of day-to-day operations (brother of Nicholas Civella)
• Motel Grzebienacz (aka Max Jaben): an associate and alleged lieutenant for Sam Giancana
• Louis Tom Dragna (aka Lou Allen): a boss, who challenged the black book’s constitutionality
• John Louis Battaglia (aka The Bat): an associate
• Joseph Sica (aka J.S., Joe Sica): a racketeer involved in bookmaking, armed robbery, murder for hire, extortion and narcotics distribution
• Robert L. Garcia (aka Bobby Garcia): an associate
• Michael Coppola (aka Trigger Mike): a capo for the Genovese crime family
Today, a digital version of the black book (the Excluded Persons list) exists on Nevada’s gambling agencies’ website. Along with underworld-affiliated individuals, it contains known, big-time gambling cheaters.