Las Vegas, Global Gaming Capital

All over the world, people automatically think of Las Vegas as the main destination for casino gambling. Although originally nothing indicated that this would be the future of the city that attracts about 38 million visitors every year and is nicknamed “Sin City”, “The City without Clocks” or the World’s Entertainment Capital.

Founding and development of the city

Initially just a marshy area in the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas has become one of the world’s most prosperous cities. Incredibly, “Sin city” was originally founded by a group of Mormon missionaries in 1855. The village of Las Vegas ( meaning “ the fertile valleys”) wasn’t officially recognised until 1905. It became a city in 1911 and its growth was aided by the fact that a railway line crossed the city.

The growth of gambling in Las Vegas

When the city was founded, like all other cities in the United States, gambling was forbidden by a law passed in 1910. However, early on the law was ignored and clandestine gambling circles sprang up in the city and this illegal but nonetheless accepted form of gambling continued to develop until 1931 when cash games were legalised in the state of Nevada and so conditions were conducive for the growth of gambling in Las Vegas. However, it took a few more years and the arrival of leading American Mafia figures in the city before a proper casino industry began in Las Vegas. At that time, the mafia saw a real opportunity to grow their business and to launder their money.

Two major names in organised crime, Benjamin Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, invested in the construction of hotel-casinos on what was to become the Strip, the city’s main thoroughfare. The Flamingo, Vegas’ first large hotel-casino opened in 1946 and its new concept of offering clients a wide range of services and entertainment made it a huge success. It was followed by the Thunderbird, the Desert Inn, the Sahara, the Hacienda and the Tropicana whose neon signs lit up the streets of Las Vegas, which was now called Sin City due to the overriding presence of the mafia in casino management. During the 1970s and 80s, the Mafia’s hold was loosened when the American millionaire Howard Hughes bought 20 casinos thanks to new regulations which were very disadvantageous to the mafia.

This heralded a new era for casino gambling in Las Vegas and attracted major investors such as Steve Wynn who constructed the Mirage and the Bellagio. Other well known investors like Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of Las Vegas Sands ( owner of the Venetian and other casinos) also added to the city’s international fame.

Las Vegas To-day

With more than 120 magnificent casinos, Las Vegas is still the global symbol of casino gambling even if Macau has recently surpassed it in terms of revenue from gambling. These are some of Las Vegas’ legendary casinos:

  • The Venetian: Opened in 1999 by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Group, the Venetian with its 7000 rooms has officially been the world’s largest hotel-casino since 2007. There is a huge slot machine room with thousands of classic and progressive jackpot slots within its 10 000m2 casino.
  • The Bellagio: MGM Group’s Bellagio is one of the most luxurious hotel-casinos on the strip. It opened in 1998 at a cost of 1.6 billion dollars and offers more than 3900 rooms and over 500 suites and is famous for its dancing fountains. The Bellagio’s casino is 10 776m2 offering numerous slot machines of all types, many gaming tables and a sports betting room.
  • Wynn Las Vegas: The Wynn Las Vegas, opened in 2005 is one of Steve Wynn’s MGM Grand Group’s hotel-casinos. This 2.7 billion dollar complex includes an immense 110 000m2 casino with 200 table games and 1900 slot machines.
  • MGM Grand Casino: When it opened in 1993 with its 5 034 rooms, the MGM Las Vegas was the world’s largest casino until 2007 when the Venetian took the top spot. The complex which cost a billion dollars has a 171 500m2 casino with about 3000 slot machines.
  • Caesars Palace: Located between the Mirage and the Bellagio, Caesars Palace is a legendary spot in Las Vegas. The hotel-casino owned by the Harrah’s Entertainment Group was built in 1966 and renovated in 2007. It offers more than 3000 rooms and its casino of about 120 000 square metres has thousands of slot machines and numerous gaming tables.

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