Chequers Book Reviews
The Professor, Michael Knapp
Newport: The Real Sin City, Jeff Laudeman (1997)80 pages, spiral bound, $18 ($3 shipping); Jeff Laudeman, P. O. Box 9293, Canoga Park, CA 91309
The northern Kentucky towns of Newport and Covington, which sit across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, were one of the most wide-open and notorious of all illegal gambling venues in the country from the 1920's through the 1950's. Some of the northern Kentucky clubs were plush "carpet joints" when the casinos in Las Vegas still had wood plank floors with sawdust sprinkled over them. Unlike most illegal gaming jurisdictions, there has not been a lack of information published about the industry as it existed in northern Kentucky. Jeff (The Dice Man) Laudeman's book, however, is the first to look at the area from the perspective of collectors.
Laudeman has put together a coherent narrative tracing the history of gambling in the northern Kentucky area, as well as some of the operators of the clubs, many of whom found their way to Las Vegas when the authorities began exerting pressure to close the clubs in Newport and Covington. In addition to the narrative, Laudeman has included black and white electronic scans of many of the known chips and dice of the northern Kentucky clubs, and they constitute an excellent beginning point for collectors interested in memorabilia from this important area. A price guide is included as well. Despite a few factual errors, Laudeman's book is a welcome addition to the literature of illegal casinos in the U.S., and the availability of the illustrations of the chips and dice makes the book a valuable addition to the library of serious collectors of illegal club material.