Wednesday, May 05, 1999

Gambling and strip joints dominated Newport scene




BY TERRY FLYNN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Gambling in Campbell and Kenton counties wouldn't be anything new if casino gaming is approved for Kentucky.

        It would just be legal for the first time.

        Newport, in particular, was a gambling mecca in the 1940s and 1950s, earning the moniker “Sin City” because of its many wide-open gambling establishments, strip joints and easy virtues that accompanied those illicit businesses.

        Best-known of the larger casino operations were the Beverly Hills Club in Southgate, the Lookout House in Fort Wright and the Playtorium on Fifth Street in Newport, now home to the Syndicate Restaurant.

        Old-timers say that the gaming operations, reportedly un der the watchful eye of the Cleveland Syndicate (a.k.a. The Mob), were so strong in Newport in its heyday that a bet too large to be laid off in a then-young Las Vegas would be handled easily by Newport bookies.

        Things started to get hot for the gamblers in Northern Kentucky in the early 1950s when an anti-crime committee headed by U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee went after organized crime and its businesses.

        The end finally came in the early 1960s with the efforts of U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

        Newport city officials have made a concerted effort in recent years to erase the “Sin City” image, promoting historic areas and rehabilitation of the homes while eliminating almost all of the adult entertainment bars on Monmouth Street.

Northern Ky. key in casino debate
Cities, towns may have say on casinos bans
- Gambling and strip joints dominated Newport scene
Ky. casinos wouldn't lack customers
States compete for betting revenue



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