In 1955, limited integration came to heavily segregated Las Vegas when the Sands first allowed Nat King Cole to stay at the hotel and perform. Sinatra noticed that he never saw Cole in the dining room, always eating his meals in solitude in his dressing room. When he asked his valet George to find out why, he learned that “Coloreds aren’t allowed in the dining room at the Sands”. Sinatra subsequently stated that if blacks were not permitted to eat their meals in the dining room with everybody else he would see to it that all of the waiters and waitresses were fired, and invited Cole to dine with him the following evening. Cole was allowed permission into the casino, as was another black performer, Harry Belafonte, who took a more aggressive approach by walking into the casino on his own accord and sitting at a blackjack table, which was not challenged by the bosses. Belafonte became the “first black man to play cards on the Las Vegas Strip.”
Sammy Davis Jr. was instrumental in bringing about a general change in policy. When the Will Mastin Trio began performing at Sands in 1958, Davis informed Entratter that his father and uncle must be allowed permission to stay at Sands while he was performing there. Entratter granted them permission but continued his objection to admitting other black guests. In 1961, an African-American couple entered the lobby of the hotel and were blocked by the security guard, witnessed by Sinatra and Davis. Sinatra told the guards that they were his guests and let them into the hotel. Sinatra subsequently swore profusely on the phone to Sands executive Carl Cohen at how ridiculous the situation was, and the following day, Davis approached Entratter and demanded that Sands begin employing blacks. Shortly afterwards the hotel changed its policy and it began hiring black waiters and busboys and permitting blacks entry into the casino.