Las Vegas, 80 Years of Gaming

It all began on March 19, 1931 when Governor Fred Balzar signed a bill that legalized gaming in Nevada. Since that day, Nevada, and especially Las Vegas, has become recognized worldwide as a premier gaming destination. From traditional card and dice games, to slot machines and race and sports book betting, the casino industry has flourished and evolved into an international phenomenon. Now, more than 80 years later, Nevada celebrates the very industry that has supported economic growth in the state.

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Las Vegas has come a long way from its first legalized gaming establishment, Northern Club on Fremont Street, in 1931. Owned by Mayme Stocker and her family, the Northern Club and others like it on the infamous Block 16 in downtown Las Vegas pumped $69,000 into the state coffers during their first two years of operation. Today, gaming revenue in Clark County alone totals more than $9.2 billion per year.

In the early 1940s, Thomas Hull selected a plot along the two-lane highway that led to Los Angeles as the site for the El Rancho. His themed resort – the first in Las Vegas – would become the first hotel along what is now known as The Strip. Five years later, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel would open his lavish Flamingo Hotel, ushering in the era of celebrity glitz in Las Vegas. Some of the world-famous entertainers who became synonymous with Las Vegas included The Rat Pack, Elvis and Liberace.

Further development occurred in the late 1960s when business, aviation and movie mogul Howard Hughes introduced corporate financing to the Las Vegas resort landscape. In 1989, Steve Wynn opened The Mirage, the first of many mega-resorts now lining the Las Vegas Strip. Today, gaming is still the centerpiece of Las Vegas, one of the world’s most desirable destinations.

Gaming Today – What’s New

As if the resorts and casinos weren’t seductive enough, Las Vegas is putting a new spin on gaming, making it sexier and more exciting than ever before.

Margaritaville and The Flamingo Las Vegas have opened the new Margaritaville Casino at The Flamingo. Adjoining Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant and directly accessible from the Strip sidewalk, the 15,000-square-foot Margaritaville Casino offers gaming tables, slot machines and the centerpiece “5 O’Clock Somewhere” bar.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of global financial services firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P., debuted The Cosmopolitan Race & Sports by Cantor. The new sports book, located on the second floor, situated adjacent to Marquee Nightclub, welcomes patrons with two outside betting windows. Wagering is available at fixed betting, or individual ‘trading’ stations within the book, as well as on Cantor’s proprietary mobile tablets which can be used at both the race and sports book and Book & Stage on the casino floor. Forty-three ‘trading’ stations each feature plush seating, viewing screens and are equipped with Cantor’s proprietary In-Running ‘sports trading’ technology.

Flamingo Las Vegas

While slot machines are the runaway favorite among gamblers in Las Vegas, table games have seen new additions and a tremendous resurgence in the popularity of poker. Some of the newer games, such as three-card poker, and timeless favorites like Pai Gow continue to draw people to the tables. The increased exposure and popularity of poker, specifically Texas Hold ‘Em, has prompted many casinos to re-open poker rooms that had been shuttered for a number of years. Las Vegas is featured regularly as the site of televised celebrity poker showdowns as well as professional poker tournaments.

Slot machines in Las Vegas

Casino Gaming Lessons

For first-timers or for those who just want to brush up on their skills, many casinos in Las Vegas still offer complimentary gaming lessons. Rediscover classic Las Vegas at any of the famous casinos Downtown. The Golden Nugget offers free, daily gaming lessons for a variety of table games including Craps, Three-Card Poker, Pai Gow, Texas Hold ‘Em, Roulette and Blackjack.

On the Strip, The Venetian and The Palazzo offer complimentary gaming lessons for Blackjack, Roulette and Craps. The Venetian also offers one-on-one and group poker lessons for no-limit and limit Texas Hold ‘Em. All gaming lessons are available 24 hours based on availability. The Sahara Hotel and Casino features a vast program of player education including an in-room television channel dedicated to gaming education. The 24/7 video tutorial teaches the basics of every major casino game including Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, Slots, Keno and Poker. Complimentary live gaming lessons are also available.

Off-Strip, the Gold Coast offers Craps lessons every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the casino pit. Its sister property, Suncoast, offers instructional handouts on table games. Dealers provide personal instruction and assistance on the floor even during live games.

Gaming Milestones

♦ 1931 Nevada Governor Fred Balzar signs a bill legalizing gaming in Nevada

♥ 1955 Nevada Gaming Control Board is established

♣ Mid-1950s Gaming revenue tops $100 million

♠ 1964 Nevada Electronic introduces first electronic slot machine

♦ 2003 Non-gaming revenue surpasses gaming revenue in Clark County

♥ 2005 Nevada gaming revenue tops $11.6 billion

♣ 2006 Nevada celebrates 75 years of gaming

♠ 2011 Nevada celebrates 80 years of gaming

Fast Facts:

In 2012, Clark County’s casinos (Clark County includes Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite, Primm and Jean) took in $9.4 billion in gross gaming revenue. Las Vegas Strip casinos accounted for $6.2 billion.

In 2012, the average gambling budget per trip was approximately $485 per visitor.

The average visitor gambled 2.6 hours per day.

Seventy-two percent of visitors said they gambled during their stay.

Slot machines reign in the casinos – 63 percent of visitors hit the slots during their stay. Blackjack came in a distant second at 14 percent with video poker rounding out the top three with 9 percent.

The statewide Megabucks games experienced a first in September 2005 when a player hit the progressive jackpot for the second time. The 92-year-old winner took home $4.6 million in 1989 and then hit the jackpot again last year for $21 million.

Nevada’s casino and gaming areas are off-limits to people younger than 21. When Bellagio opened on the Las Vegas Strip in October 1998, the hotel barred patrons from the premises who were under 18 years of age unless they were registered guests of the hotel; this policy was a first, although it is not strictly enforced today.

Race and sports betting tops $2 billion per year. Some Las Vegas casinos treat gamblers to plush seating, free drinks and buffets in the race and sports book complexes where live racing and athletic events are viewed on giant, satellite-fed screens.

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