Travelers have flocked to Las Vegas since the early 1900’s to rest their boots at historic hotels like The Frontier Club and Binions and newer themed hotels like the MGM and Caesars. Las Vegas is the place to celebrate and party while seeing amazing shows like Shania Twain, Penn & Teller and Cirque du Soleil. However, millions of people visit Las Vegas from miles away, not just to see the shows, but to gamble their hard-earned cash in hopes of winning big in the many casinos on and off the Las Vegas Strip.
The Las Vegas Strip, flanked by themed hotels and casinos, fancy restaurants, all you can eat buffets, and many shops and boutiques, is a two lane, four-mile long highway with plenty of places to spend money.
Saloons and boarding houses offered underground gambling on Freemont Street, now Downtown Las Vegas, when the Union Pacific Railroad finally made its way west in 1905 and connected with The San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. Illegal gambling thrived in the early 1900’s attracting people from neighboring cities to drink and gamble after a long day.
In 1931 Nevada Legislature legalized gambling hoping to bring in money from taxes for the state’s education system. Beginning with the El Rancho Resort in 1941, the first casino on the strip offering hotel rooms and amenities to their guests, construction boomed, attracting more tourists and revenue to the city.
Mobsters ran Las Vegas from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s, taking cuts from the casino’s revenue every day. While the money funded their illegal operations, they also loaned money for building new hotels and casino’s after World War II, including the Flamingo Hotel, built by the infamous mobster, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Where there was money and corruption in the early to mid-1900’s there was Organized Crime.
Las Vegas, known as the gambling capital of the world, is now home to over a hundred hotels and 95 casinos on and off the Las Vegas Strip. One of the first states to legalize gambling, Nevada paved the way for other states to follow suite. Taxes from gambling now make up 43% of the state’s revenue. Today, 48 states allow some form of legal gambling, but no other place matches the vast enterprise of Last Vegas.