original article was posted by Jim on the old Prodigy Board
on December 21st, 1997
Jim amended the article on May 12th,
To my knowledge the first official black club in Las Vegas
was located in an area of town known as Block 17.
It's name was the Idle Hour Club.(1934) I believe it was
the first Black club recognized to operate gaming legally.
At that time all the other casinos (White and some Black)
were in Block 16 some legal others not. Whites could go into
any casino Blacks could also play in the White
establishments but were discouraged too.
The Moulin Rouge was a legal club found around 1955. The
primary reason it was developed was because race relations
had deteriorated to such an extent Blacks wanted a place to
go. It was owned by White owners. It ran into some
difficulty and was closed by Federal agents; who confiscated
all assets including chips. I am not sure what the
allegation involved but it really makes no difference to the
story. When the agents closed the place customers, dealers,
etc. were grabbing anything and everything they could get
their hands on including chips. Customers were running out
of the place with handfuls of $100.00 chips. This was the
primary reason the government drilled what was left in
Often when you see a Moulin Rouge chip it will be drilled.
I have seen many undrilled $100.00 of each type. What you
don't see very often is undrilled $5.00 and $25.00 Moulin
Rouge chips. In my opinion undrilled $5.00 chips are less
common than the $25.00 chips. As people were grabbing chips
and running out of the casino during the raid. The first
denomination to go would have been the $100.00 chips
followed by the $25.00 chips and the last would have been
the $5.00. Consequently, the Feds would have drilled more
$5.00 than any other denomination. This is why I believe the
two types of undrilled $5.00 chips are much rarer than
either of the other denominations. If you have an undrilled
$5.00 Moulin Rouge chip of either type you have a RARE chip.
The last time I checked the undrilled $100.00 either type
was going for $800.00 to $1200.00 depending upon how badly
warped it was. (Check those undrilled $100.00's - for some
reason most of them are warped) If this is still the case.
You tell me what the undrilled $5.00 and $25.00 are worth!
Certainly much more than what the price guides show.
An interesting note - if you look at the "Can-Can" girl
chip you will see a similarity to the "show girl" on the
Last Frontier chip. This was because they were designed by
the same person who owned, or was an owner of both places.
Many people believe the Moulin Rouge was the first
integrated club. Not so! Blacks played in clubs located and
owned by them in the downtown area during World War II as
well as some white clubs. These mixed race clubs did good
business. It wasn't until the city fathers refused to renew
business licenses for black owned establishments located
downtown that the policy of separation began to really
develop. By forcing Black owned clubs and establishments to
move to a different area of town, created so much "hate"
that the relationship between Blacks and Whites went
downhill fast. Some people believe the shooting of a Black
soldier in 1944 by the Las Vegas police in front of or in
the Harlem Club led to the destruction of the Brown Derby
Club. I believe the shooting and the riot were partly
unrelated. Relations between the races were really bad
because of the license problem. The Brown Derby Club riot,
in my opinion, was caused by a crooked crap game fueled by
the earlier shooting. Many of the games in the Black owned
clubs were not totally on the up and up. Let's be honest,
neither were the games in the White clubs.
The Black owned clubs that developed during the 50's and
60's had class. Look at their chips! Beautiful arrow-dies,
'Great" looking inlays, etc. etc. Quality was reflective of
the times. We still have not located many chips coming from
Black clubs which were opened for a short time and
disappeared as strangely as they had appeared. In future
articles I will cover some of those clubs. Until then, keep
your eye opened for that "Green Lantern".