Evolution Of The Las Vegas Strip

Published on: December 23, 2012 

The Las Vegas Strip is just a four mile stretch, but it is the best known gambling destination in the world. The hotels and resorts offer, apart from all casino gambling activities, night life entertainment and sumptuous dining. Hollywood movies have taken the outlandish architecture and the glitz of neon lights to the farthest corners of the world. The history of The Strip is as amazing as the place itself.

Around 1930 the Las Vegas community consisted mainly of migrant male workers engaged in the building of the Hoover Dam. They were provided entertainment by illegal gambling houses and showgirl theatres run by local Las Vegas business owners, Mormon financiers and Mafia dons. The state of Nevada wanted to generate revenue from these activities and therefore they legalized gambling in Las Vegas in 1931. The first gambling license was issued to Northern Club on Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas. Soon this area was buzzing with casinos and Fremont Street became the first paved street with traffic lights in Las Vegas.

The first casino on what later came to be known as The Strip was El Rancho Vegas, which opened in 1941. Unfortunately El Rancho Vegas was destroyed in a fire in 1960 and no longer exists. This area lay about half a mile south of the main city on Arrowhead Highway and had great potential for an exclusive gambling zone. It attracted organized crime syndicates from other parts of America. Bugsy Siegel from New York started the Flamingo in 1946, which today is owned by Harrah’s and is the oldest surviving casino on The Strip. In 1938 Guy McAfee, a Los Angeles police officer, was forced to leave the city on account of his underground activities. He came to Las Vegas and began to acquire interests in casinos. One of them was the Golden Nugget, which in 1946 was the world’s largest casino. It was McAfee who renamed the area to The Strip after the Sunset Strip of Los Angeles.

The Strip began to get its present architectural environment in 1968. Kirk Kerkorian had just sold his Trans International Airlines for $104 million and wanted to invest the funds in casinos on The Strip. He moved to Las Vegas along with architect Martin Stern. The two of them introduced the concept of the mega resort culture in The Strip. The first thing that Kerkorian did was to purchase the Flamingo. Then in 1969 he opened the International Hotel, which is today known as the Las Vegas Hilton. Kerkorian also purchased the MGM property and after renovation opened it as the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in 1973. From 1986 Kerkorian began to divest from The Las Vegas Strip. But his concept of overwhelming and almost bizarre structures endures. Today 19 of the world’s 25 largest hotels are on The Strip, which include The Venetian, The Mirage, Harrah’s, Caesar’s Palace and Bellagio.

Till 2006 The Las Vegas Strip was the biggest revenue grossing gambling destination in the world. In 2006 Macau in China became the number one region. The Las Vegas Strip casinos are therefore looking to make their next big move. Many of them, like Caesars, support legalization of online gambling in the United States. They are not only lobbying for this legislation but are also getting their online gambling infrastructure in order.

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