Las Vegas is still the gambling capital of the United States, with more than 65 casino-hotels. In years past, before New Jersey tried to corner the East Coast gambling market, and before other states found they could make money from gambling, Las Vegas was the pretty much the only destination for American gamblers. For a time, the city had something of a shady reputation as well.
With the advent of gambling in other parts of the country, the Las Vegas has turned itself into more of a family entertainment destination. Las Vegas has 130,000 hotel rooms, more than any other city on the country, and 35 million people a year go there to play games and to enjoy themselves.
The city is still a gambler’s mecca, and the casinos are all open day and all night. Most offer blackjack, roulette, slots, craps, video poker, and slot machines. One must be at least 21 years old to gamble in the state.
While there are casinos all around town, most are located in either downtown Las Vegas, or an area called “The Strip.” Downtown is an area bounded by Main Street, Interstate 95, 7th street, and Bridger Street. It holds four blocks that are said to be the most brightly lit in the world, due in part to the 2 million light bulbs of the Fremont Street Experience, an arched 100-foot-high awning. Every night from sunset until midnight, there is a light-and-sound show at the beginning of each hour. The downtown casinos, while fairly large, are smaller than the huge hotel-casinos of the Strip.
The Strip is a 3.5-mile length of Las Vegas Boulevard just south of Downtown. It is home to many of the city’s mega-casinos, including the MGM Grand, which, with more than 5,000 rooms, is said to be the largest hotel in the world. (It is also said to be the second-largest casino in the world.) Also located in this part of town are various themed hotel-casinos, such as Caesar’s Palace (with an ancient Rome theme), the Venetian (Venice, Italy), Excalibur (medieval knights), Luxor (resembles an Egyptian pyramid), Aladdin (Arabian Knights), New York-New York (with its replica of the New York City skyline), and Circus, the first hotel in Las Vegas to attract families with children.
Those gamblers who don’t want to deal so much with the super glitzy casino venues might try gambling at the casinos in the nearby Boulder Strip southeast of the city, and in North Las Vegas.
Away from Las Vegas
Cities and towns throughout Nevada have casinos. Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World,” is smaller, friendlier, and less crowded than its neighbor in the southern part of the state. Additionally, the weather in Reno is much more temperate. Whereas Las Vegas can be very hot, especially in the summer months, Reno is cooler and more pleasant. A number of Reno casinos are located in its “Strip” area including Circus (slightly smaller than its Las Vegas cousin) the Eldorado, Harrah’s, the Club Cal-Neva, and the Silver Legacy.
The town of Stateline, on the shores of Lake Tahoe at the California line, boasts a number of big casinos in a small area. The 88,000 square-foot casino at Harvey’s features the largest hand-tooled leather mural in the world, depicting a scene from Nevada’s silver-mining heyday of the 19th century. Harrah’s, a 65,000 square-foot casino, is said to have 1,800 slot machines and 170 table games. Caesars Tahoe is not quite so gaudy as its Las Vegas cousin. The Tahoe Horizon is said to be the brightest casino on the lake.