The History of Gambling in Las Vegas

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Gambling in Las Vegas goes back many years. On May 15, 1905 advent of the railroad led to the founding of Las Vegas. Montana Senator, Williams Andrew Clark, auctioned off 1,200 lots in a single day in an area which today is lined with casinos. The first state to legalize casino style gambling, was in fact Nevada, however it was the last western state to outlaw gaming in the 20th Century.

On October 1, 1910 at midnight a strict anti-gambling law became effective in Nevada. This law only lasted three weeks until gamblers quickly set up underground games where only patrons with the proper password could enter. In 1931 the Nevada Legislature approved a bill legalizing gambling. This bill was said to be designed to raise the needed taxes for public schools, and today more than 43% of the state fund is fed by the gambling tax revenue, and over 34% of that state fund is given to public education.

In 1941 the seed for future expansion of Las Vegas was planted by Tommy Hull a hotelman, who built the El Rancho Vegas Hotel – Casino with 63 rooms. The success of this hotel triggered a small building boom in the late 1940’s including several hotels on a two lane highway leading into Las Vegas. That stretch later evolved into what’s known now as the Las Vegas Strip.

On New Year’s Eve 1946 a new hotel opened up, named The Flamingo, built by mobster Benjamin Siegel. It was modeled after resort hotels in Miami. In the 1950’s resort building continued to accelerate as hotels and casinos began popping up left and right. In another part of the city the Moulin Rouge Hotel-Casino opened in 1955 built to accommodate the growing black population.

In the late 1950’s the city and county community leaders realized they were in need of a convention facility. The goal initially was to fill all hotel rooms with conventioneers during the slack months when tourists were not around. It is now one of the largest single level facilities in the world.

Along with the gambling, entertainment helped build Las Vegas’ reputation as a playland getaway of the world. Singers, comedians, strippers, and dancers were a wide variety of performers who were booked to entertain the guests at El Rancho Vegas in the small intimate showroom. The hotel-casinos that followed the El Rancho Vegas copied their successful star format for a number of years.

During the 50’s and 60’s casino lounges also provided a continuous entertainment atmosphere at no cost from dusk till dawn. Nevada gambling styles evolved in order to keep the pace with the more sophisticated players. Baccarat soon appeared in the high roller strip casinos. In the late 60’s multiple coin slot machines debuted. Computerized dollar slot machines evolved from the old mechanical penny and nickel slot machines that took one coin at a time.

In the 70’s video machines were introduced. The computerized slot machines now offer more than one game such as keno, blackjack, and bingo. In 1976 when casino-style gambling was legalized in NJ, Las Vegas knew they could no longer hold exclusive rights to gambling casinos. This soon began a new era for the Strip, the Megaresort era.

This led to the construction of tons of megaresorts in all shapes and sizes hold all sorts of attractions. The hotel-casinos soon began the race to become a full-blown destination for tourists, travelers, gamblers, and families. Since this era boom Las Vegas has continued to boom with even more hotels and casinos as well as attractions for all ages.


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