From an Andy Martello news release
The King of Casinos: Willie Martello and the El Rey Club has been awarded the top prize in the biography category of the 2014 International Book Awards. This year’s contest boasted over 1,200 entries in a wide variety of categories.
“I thought it was a joke,” said Andy Martello, the book’s author. “This such a huge honor and a rare treat for a first-time author. I’m still in shock.”
The King of Casinos details the history of a little-known but highly influential casino called the El Rey Club, which was located in Searchlight, Nevada, between 1946 and 1962. The casino and one-time brothel was owned by maverick Las Vegas gambler Willie Martello (no relation to Andy) and offered gourmet meals, world class entertainment, free flights from California to Searchlight, and amenities now considered to be well ahead of its time.
“Willie Martello was trying out ideas in Searchlight during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s that weren’t attempted in nearby Las Vegas until the ’80s and ’90s,” according to the author. “A lot happened there, too. Francis Coppola’s first movie was made there, the Rat Pack hung out there, Senator Harry Reid learned to swim in the pool built at the El Rey Club.”
The book was released in January and has sold in five countries. It immediately began making waves by attracting the endorsements of celebrities and bestselling authors such as Antiques Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg, Pawn Stars expert Mark Hall-Patton and New York Times bestselling author Robert Graysmith (Zodiac, Auto Focus).
Celebrity support aside, the book was very much a product of the people’s demand for this unreal but true story. Readers of Andy Martello’s blog became aware of his research eight years ago and drove him to finish the book, contributing to his online fundraiser to raise funds for photo licensing and publishing costs.
“I received donations from three different countries through online crowd-sourcing. I wasn’t expecting more than a couple of people to support the book. Instead, people from around the world were insisting this fascinating story be told,” said Martello. “This really is so much more than a local history book. It clearly has international appeal.”
The King of Casinos is available at Amazon, andymartello.com and select stores throughout Nevada and California.