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The Original Sin City

By Linda Tancs

It may be hard to fathom the Bluegrass State’s fair city of Newport as a precursor to Las Vegas’s baptism as Sin City. But so it was. In the 1920s and 1930s, the mob ruled locales like Newport, Kentucky, making millions in casinos, bootlegging and other illicit activities and earning the area’s designation as Sin City. Even the gangsters’ weapon of choice, the Tommy Gun, was invented by a Newport native, John T. Thompson—much to his chagrin, of course, having been developed for use by the military during World War I but delivered too late to be of value then. His historic home, Thompson House, is now an entertainment venue.

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