What Was Bugsy Siegel's Race Wire in Las Vegas and Why Was It Significant?

Bugsy Siegel is a name that is synonymous with Las Vegas, but few people know about the role he played in shaping the city’s gaming industry. One of the most significant contributions he made was the establishment of the race wire, which helped revolutionize sports betting in the United States. In this article, we will take a closer look at what the race wire was, how it worked, and why it was so significant.

Who Was Bugsy Siegel?

Before we dive into the race wire, it’s important to understand who Bugsy Siegel was. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1906, Siegel became involved in organized crime at a young age. He was a member of the notorious Murder, Inc. gang and was heavily involved in bootlegging during Prohibition. In the 1940s, Siegel moved to Los Angeles and became a key figure in the city’s organized crime scene. It was during this time that he began to dream of a new kind of gambling destination in the Nevada desert.

What Was the Race Wire?

The race wire was a telegraph system that transmitted real-time information about horse races and sporting events across the country. Siegel realized that by using this system, he could offer sports betting to customers in Las Vegas even if the events were taking place thousands of miles away. This was a game-changer for the city’s gambling industry because it allowed customers to place bets on events that were happening in real-time, rather than having to rely on outdated information.

How Did the Race Wire Work?

The race wire worked by transmitting information from the tracks to bookmakers in Las Vegas. Siegel and his associates would pay insiders at the tracks to send them the results of the races as soon as they were available. They would then transmit this information over the race wire to bookmakers in Las Vegas, who could use it to set odds and take bets from customers. This allowed customers to bet on races as they were happening, rather than having to place their bets in advance based on outdated information.

Why Was the Race Wire Significant?

The race wire was significant for several reasons. First, it allowed bookmakers in Las Vegas to offer customers the most up-to-date information possible, which made the betting experience more exciting and engaging. Second, it allowed bookmakers to offer a wider variety of bets on a wider variety of events. Finally, it helped cement Las Vegas’s reputation as a gambling destination, which ultimately led to the city’s growth and development into the entertainment capital of the world.


Bugsy Siegel’s race wire was a game-changer for the sports betting industry in the United States. By using telegraph technology to transmit real-time information about sporting events, Siegel was able to offer customers in Las Vegas an exciting and engaging betting experience. Today, the legacy of the race wire lives on in the form of modern sports betting technology, which allows customers to place bets on events happening all around the world.

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