As online gambling continues to grow, land-based casinos are suffering. Las Vegas, Nevada was known as the ‘casino capital’ of the world. Now, Las Vegas could be left behind as players move online.
Casino History in Las Vegas
Located in the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas was once considered a ‘small town’ in Nevada. In the early 1860’s, Nevada became the 36th State in America. Around this time, people had a very negative attitude towards gambling. This continued until 1931 when the Wide Open Bill of Gambling was passed. The passing of the gambling bill led to the transformation of Las Vegas. Once a sleepy railway town, Las Vegas soon became the ‘City of Lights’.
Small casinos then began popping up in the late 1930’s and doing relatively well. Around 11 years later what is now known as ‘The Strip’ was born on highway 91. El Rancho became the first big casino on the strip. This attracted notorious gangster Benjamin’ Bugsy’ Siegel. A somewhat celebrity of the time ‘Bugsy’ opened the first luxury hotel and casino. Named The Pink Flamingo, it served as a representation of all things fabulous about gambling. Lasting the test of time people can still visit and play at The Pink Flamingo today.
Following the success of these early casinos, many others were built including:
- The Sahara
- The Sands (Now the Venetian)
- The Desert Rose Motel
- The Riviera
- The Dunes (Now Bellagio)
- Hacienda (Now Mandalay Bay)
- The Tropicana
One of the most iconic casinos built was The Stardust in 1958. At the time it was built, The Stardust was the largest casino hotel in Las Vegas. Opening such a large-scale casino, put Las Vegas on the map. Suddenly, there was a huge amount of wealth and success to be had. From the 1960’s there was a frenzy as numerous casinos opened their doors. Among them was Circus Circus, The original MGM Grand, and Caesar’s Palace. Around this time The Rat Pack debuted at the legendary Copa Room at The Sands.
By the 1990’s much of the Las Vegas 4.2-mile Strip was taken up. However, a few managed to squeeze in among them were:
- Treasure Island
- New York New York
Sadly, the 1990’s marked the last strong decade for Las Vegas Casinos. Post-1990’s began the closure, implosions and replacement of many beloved casinos. Veterans of the Strip will still remember the fallen iconic casinos such as The Stardust.
The fall of Las Vegas Casinos vs the rise of online casinos
During the golden era of Las Vegas (1950-1999) casinos seemed untouchable. Whilst the world waged war, casinos showcased the best of glitzy entertainment. Nobody thought that the lights of many casinos would ever go out.
Economic downturns, poor business deals and the rise of online casinos have all led to casino closures. Notable poor business dealings include Donald Trump’s failed casino, Wynn and The Riviera. Not even lady luck could save these dealings. However, it is the rise of online casino that poses the most concern. As we become a more digitized world, people are becoming drawn to the ‘digital glamour’ of online. Online casinos in particular, are becoming more design and feature focused. Not to mention the range of choice they offer when it comes to playing online casino games. Where land casinos are space-limited, online casinos can offer thousands of different games. There is also the convenience factor. Online casinos can be accessed 24/7, 365 days a year from pretty much anywhere. Las Vegas casinos require players to physically enter their buildings. For non-Vegas citizens, this also means adding in travel costs. Not very convenient.
When it comes to the numbers, here’s how things shake up. In 2017, Las Vegas casinos made $587.4 million dollars. Although an impressive amount, it pales in comparison to online. It is estimated that the online casino market makes roughly $40-50 billion dollars each year.
The Future of Las Vegas
As the saying goes you can’t keep a good guy down. Although many casinos have closed, Las Vegas continues to light up the Mojave Desert. Most recently serial entrepreneur Richard Branson bought the Hard Rock Hotel. This will help ensure the future of an iconic casino hotel. Without Branson and his Virgin money, who knows what would have happened.
Besides casino investment, Las Vegas has its legendary entertainment circuit. Over the years Las Vegas has been home to Sigmund and Roy, Cirque du Soleil, and Penn & Teller. Now many popular music artists are calling Las Vegas home. Celine Dion, Britney Spears and Rod Stewart have all graced the Vegas scene.
Whether it’s casinos, circuses or Celine Dion, the Las Vegas Strip will never be empty. However, Las Vegas casinos should probably brace themselves.
List of Iconic Casinos that have closed
- Lucky Dragon Casino
- Westin’s Casino
- The Stardust
- The Sands
- Desert Rose
- Key Largo
- Westward Ho
- El Rancho