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The Atlantic City gang war of 1923 was a conflict between rival criminals Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, former treasurer and boss of Atlantic City, and Giuseppe Rosetti, also known as Gyp, a mid-level Sicilian mobster from New York. The seeds of mutual animosity were sown during a New Year's Eve party when Nucky Thompson dissolved a business relationship with Gyp Rosetti by distributing liquor to New York solely through contacts with prominent gambler Arnold Rothstein. In retaliation, Gyp Rosetti attempted to block Thompson's shipments by obstructing a key supply route in Tabor Heights, New Jersey. The disagreement eventually escalated to full-blown war with Rosetti being backed by New York boss Joe Masseria's forces and Thompson calling in his associates from Chicago. Ultimately after many twists and machinations Gyp was killed by one of his men at Thompson's behest.


On the eve of the year 1923 Nucky Thompson, the former treasurer of Atlantic City and his wife, Margaret, host a garish Egyptian themed party honor of the recent discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun by archaeologist Howard Carter. In attendance are numerous individuals with ties to bootlegging and organized crime. At a private meeting between the gangsters Nucky Thompson, wanting to adopt a lower profile considering his ties to the Harding administration and its impending legal issues, decides to minimize his exposure to the bootlegging industry by selling his liquor solely to Arnold Rothstein. Unable to comprehend the logical reasons for such a maneuver and facing the prospect of losing a big supplier, Giuseppe Columbano Rosetti rebukes the assembled guests, threatens Thompson, and leaves the party, irate.

Soon thereafter Gyp, who had been staying at a hotel in the small stopover town of Tabor Heights, after familiarizing himself with the geography of the town in relation to New York and Atlantic City, makes the decision to dam up the flow of liquor passing between the cities. He strongarms the sheriff into allowing him to commandeer a gas station and in so doing stops a shipment overseen by Owen Sleater and Mickey Doyle. At this point some attempt at a reconciliation is made between Gyp and Nucky, but the détente was short-lived and the conflict began again with renewed vigor.