Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Colonial Inn - east U.S. gambling mecca in the 1940s

By Jane Feehan

Opened in Hallandale (a few miles south of Fort Lauderdale) in December, 1945, Colonial Inn* was one of the plushest gambling spots in the eastern United States. Gambling wasn’t legal but Broward County officials turned a blind eye on the operation as it drew in millions of dollars for its owners.

Gangsters thought to have been involved in its operations included Joe Adonis, Meyer Lansky, Vincent “Jimmy Blue Eyes” Alo and perhaps, Frank Costello (Kefauver Committee Hearings Interim Report #3, 1951). “Gambling Baron” Mert Wertheimer operated the place when it first opened and later moved to Las Vegas to oversee the popular Riverside Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

During its short life as a casino, the Colonial Inn, which was located near today's Gulfsream Park, hosted big-name floor shows. Some of the entertainers included Carmen Miranda who headlined weekly for $11,000 with comedian Joe E. Lewis as master of ceremonies for $6,500 a week (Miami News, Feb. 13, 1948).

Fort Lauderdale’s Dwight Rogers Jr., Florida’s assistant state attorney 1948-1952, closed casino operations in 1948. The inn later served as a television studio and was then sold for conversion into a hotel in 1951 (Miami News, Jul. 30, 1951, p. 14). Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

* This is NOT the Colonial Inn of Motel Row in North Miami - no connection.

Meyer Lansky buys Colonial Inn, see:

For information about Sheriff Walter Clark and gambling in Broward County during the 1940s, see:

Just out (2014), from Sandra Lansky, daughter of Meyer Lansky

Tags: Miami gambling in the 1940s, casinos in Miami Beach in the 1940s, Meyer Lansky,

1 comment:

  1. I remember visiting some of the most famous hotels in Miami in the late '50s and '60s. They all had huge lobbies waiting for when gambling was made legal.