Benny Binion, a true “Yellowstone” mobster
This past summer Toby-Jeanne, the Cat’s Claw Queen, and I had the opportunity to work as background actors, network, pretend to be different people, and save the background crew with the help of Cat’s Claw Fasteners on the Yellowstone set. During our time there, we got to talking about the various sources of inspiration that the creators of the drama-filled television series Yellowstone might have drawn from. Now, as you can probably imagine, we came up with a long list of potential inspirations that we ourselves would look to if we were the ones writing the script, and Benny Binion is one of the many people on that list. You might be wondering, “Who is Benny Binion?” so we did some research on him and wanted to share what we discovered with you.
Lester Ben Binion
Let’s begin at the beginning: Lester Ben Binion, born November 20th, 1904, was better known by his nickname Benny Binion. He spent his childhood in Pilot Grove, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Benny never received a formal education since his mother felt he was too ill to attend school as a child. Although Binion’s health improved thanks to his time spent outdoors, something his father felt would help eventually, he never completed his schooling. Benny received his education in the world of horse trading and gambling under the guidance of his father throughout his childhood. Benny acted as a runner and eventually became highly skilled in horse trading after being the errand boy for the merchants. Poker and other card games gave the merchants something to do during the long hours when they weren’t busy with business at their campgrounds. Binion would keep an eye on the various traders and rapidly pick up on the tricks that the players would use, talents that would definitely come in handy in the future.
El Paso to Dallas
At age 18, in 1922, Benny established a moonshine operation after moving to El Paso. He quickly outgrew that small community and relocated to Dallas, where his moonshine business was followed by a slew of other criminal ventures. This includes the introduction of a very profitable numbers game into his gambling repertoire. After relocating to Dallas, at the age of 24, Binion began dabbling in horse trading like his father did before discovering the greater financial rewards to be had in illegal gambling. After the implementation of Prohibition, he entered the bootlegging business, forging partnerships with local politicians, law enforcement, and the mob.
Binion quickly became involved in violent crime since that is what happens when you hang out with the mob. He first went to prison in 1931 for the murder of a fellow rumrunner (but on the positive side, he picked up reading while incarcerated) and then again in 1936 for the murders of numerous rival rumrunners.
His numbers and dice games business was growing. It was based out of hotels in the Dallas area and would soon be the biggest in the state. With the help of his contacts, Binion was able to avoid jail time after he and his men murdered two of their rivals in the dice business.
Binion aimed for Fort Worth after becoming a powerful mobster in Dallas. The Chicago mob’s attempt to cash in on the action was more than he could manage.
On to Dallas
After a failed assassination attempt on a competing gambler named Herbert Noble in 1946 and losing “ paid control” over a sheriff, Binion relocated his family and moved to Las Vegas, where he constructed the Horseshoe Casino that bore his name. You are probably aware that casinos offer comped drinks and reasonably priced food in an effort to keep customers inside the establishment. The Horseshoe was the location where everything initially got started.
When Binion first arrived in Las Vegas, he did not waste any time getting engaged in the gambling industry. He quickly secured a license that allowed him to run a casino. Despite this, he continued to be involved in feuds with rivals in Dallas, Texas, some of which ended in rather violent ways, according to what we have discovered about the outcomes of these conflicts.
You have my word that we here at Cat’s Claw Fasteners despise cliffhangers as much as you do, and sadly, that is where we must leave you, dear readers. But don’t worry; the Binion saga will continue in upcoming blogs, so stay tuned! Have more Yellowstone-related questions? Cat’s Claw Fasteners would love to hear from you. Make sure to email them over to our Head Cat Collector at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our other fencing-related blogs here, and make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube!