The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV

The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV
The El Rey Resort & Casino, Circa 1957-1962

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FINALIST! Red City Review Book Award Contest and a FIVE STAR REVIEW!

Check back in December to find out if I won my category for the Red City Review book Award Contest.  I was recently named a finalist and they graciously gave my book a FIVE STAR REVIEW!

"Every so often, readers come across stories and characters that are so unlikely as to be unbelievable.  This is one of those stories – but, remarkably, it’s all true.  Andy Martello was visiting Las Vegas with his wife when they decided to stop in at a dusty museum off the main drag.  Martello’s wife pointed out a faded black-and-white photograph that bore the couple’s same last name: it was the author’s first acquaintance with the El Rey Club, a notorious Nevadan gambling and entertainment destination that got its start in the 1940s.  Run by Willie Martello, this was a place where celebrities came to get away.  In fact, the El Rey Club was so successful in diverting money away from the Las Vegas joints that it began to attract untoward attention.  The club’s association with the Mafia led to Martello’s muddy reputation, dragging his story down into the depths of American history until one author had the happenstance to drudge it back up. 

Let’s face it: gambling is a gray area.  There are those who are strictly in favor of it, and those who wouldn’t step foot in front of a slot machine.  Mostly it’s because of a morality we paint over the act of gambling – it’s wasteful, sinful, illegitimate.  Or, it’s entertaining, fun, and relaxing.  Similarly, Martello’s story is part heroic and part dubious.  Through sheer willpower, this man erected a business from the ground up and forever changed the face of the gambling industry; there’s no denying how much thought and sweat went into the El Rey Club.  Yet at the same time, the Club had somewhat shadowy underpinnings: rigged slot machines, multiple run-ins with the law, and a hotspot for Mafia activity.  What Andy Martello has managed to piece together – in as seemingly a miraculous way as the King of Casinos himself – is a thoughtful, well-researched biography of a remarkable businessman out of the American past."

The research & collecting of photos and memorabilia from the El Rey Club never stops! Please contact me at 702-465-5604 or email me at if you have stories or memorabilia to share.

A FIVE STAR REVIEW and a SILVER MEDAL from Readers' Favorite!

Read the Review!

Reviewed by for Readers' Favorite

The King of Casinos – Willie Martello and the El Rey Club is the story of how one small casino became the blueprint for thousands of others. Andy Martello came across one photograph that prompted him to look into the history of the El Rey Club, of how it was built up and then destroyed in 1962 by a terrific fire. That one photo brought to life a story that is colourful. That one photo uncovered buried facts and gave the El Rey Club its place in history. For fifty years after the fire that destroyed it the Club was known as a small time brothel, nothing more. Andy Martello brings us the truth about how Willie Martello built up the Club, of how he stepped on the toes of the Las Vegas Mob and of how his little club kick started Francis Ford Coppola’s career. The El Rey Club was so much more than it was thought to be and the only place you will find the truth is between the covers of this book.

The King of Casinos had me laughing out loud in places. Andy Martello has a real storyteller’s gift, a way with words that makes a reader want to be there in the thick of his story. The photographs were a fantastic addition to the book, priceless, and helping to tell the real story of the club. I couldn’t put the book down and I guarantee that anybody who picks up this book will feel the same. Once you start, you won’t want to stop until the very end. Great book, a fantastic piece of history brought to life.

The research & collecting of photos and memorabilia from the El Rey Club never stops! Please contact me at 702-465-5604 or email me at if you have stories or memorabilia to share.