Moulin Rouge

The original article was posted by Jim on the old Prodigy Board on December 21st, 1997

Jim amended the article on May 12th, 2001

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 inventory.

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 refelective 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".