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Freedman, Jake, 1891-1958
Jake “Jakie” Freedman (1891-1958) was a notorious gambler and oilman from Houston, Texas. He helped establish the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada as investor and gaming director.
Jake Freedman was born on March 20, 1891 in Odessa, Russia. He immigrated to the United States and after serving in the military during World War I he was granted citizenship. He moved to Texas and Freedman’s gambling career started in Galveston Island, known as the “gaming capital of Texas.” From 1926 to 1951, Freedman owned and operated an illegal casino inside his mansion named the Domain Privee. It was an exclusive club open only to Houston’s elite and was always kept well under fifty patrons. During this time, Freedman made profitable oil investments, operated a string of race horses in different states, and was even credited with saving Judge James Elkins’s First National Bank from collapse during the Great Depression. Eventually, the Domain Privee was shut down by Texas authorities.
In 1952, Freedman purchased La Rue’s restaurant and invested in the renovation that would make it the Sands Hotel and Casino. The cost of the addition of a 200 room hotel and casino amounted to $5.5 million. In August of 1952, Freedman was denied a gaming permit due to his connections with Mack “Max” Kufferman, a New Jersey liquor operator. The gaming commission would allow approval only if he cut all ties with Kufferman. Eventually, the Sands Hotel and Casino opened on December 15, 1952 as the seventh resort on the Las Vegas Strip. Freedman brought in experienced management that helped the establishment run smoothly, especially in the gaming department. His partner, Jack Entratter, was well known from New York’s Copacabana and Freedman announced that he would be in charge of publicity and entertainment. Freedman and his partners helped create what was at the time one of the world’s most lavish hotels and a showcase Las Vegas resort.
Jake Freedman died during heart surgery on January 19, 1958 in Los Angeles, California. He was interred in the mausoleum at Beth Israel Cemetery in Houston, Texas. He was survived by his second wife, Sarah “Sadie” Freedman and his son Nathan Freedman.
Bass, Ron. “Domain Privee,” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed August 21, 2020. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/domain-privee.
DeMatteo, Deanna. “La Rue’s and Sands from the beginning to 1955,” Las Vegas Strip Historical Site. Accessed August 21, 2020. http://www.lvstriphistory.com/ie/sands50.htm.