Gaming and Tourism

Circus Circus

When Jay Sarno designed his Caesars Palace hotel-casino, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1966, he envisioned it as a center of Ancient Roman extravagance. His next idea for a casino had less appeal to big gamblers, but was just as ambitious–he wanted it to house the largest circus in the world.

African Americans in Las Vegas

Over the course of the twentieth century, economic opportunities encouraged black migration to the Las Vegas area, but racial discrimination curtailed aspirations for decent employment. Partnership in a ranch attracted John Howell, the first black man known to own property in Southern Nevada; however the railroad, gaming, and federal projects drew most African Americans to Las Vegas. By 1910, out of the 945 residents of Las Vegas, forty were black.

Sands Hotel Implosion

Las Vegas has developed a reputation for imploding its past. Actually, the reputation is neither deserved nor unique. Other cities have blown up historic buildings whose owners or the community had decided had outlived their usefulness—Reno’s Mapes Hotel serving as an example. And Las Vegas has imploded mainly hotel-casinos in financial trouble or unlikely to compete with newer, more modern, larger resorts. What Las Vegas has done differently, though, is turn these implosions into spectacles.

Stardust Hotel Implosion

Las Vegas has developed a reputation for imploding its past. Actually, the reputation is neither deserved nor unique. Other cities have blown up historic buildings whose owners or the community had decided had outlived their usefulness—Reno’s Mapes Hotel serving as an example. And Las Vegas has imploded mainly hotel-casinos in financial trouble or unlikely to compete with newer, more modern, larger resorts. What Las Vegas has done differently, though, is turn these implosions into spectacles.

Tropicana

The Tropicana Hotel, known for its famous showgirls and past associations with organized crime figures, was the most opulent of the hotel-casinos built during the resort-building boom on the Las Vegas Strip during the dozen years following World War II.

Thunderbird Casino and the Mob

The Thunderbird, one of the first Las Vegas Strip casinos, was also one of the first to become involved in the federal-state controversy over mob involvement in Nevada gaming. In 1950, Thunderbird co-owner Clifford Jones, Nevada's lieutenant governor, was among a number of Las Vegas casino operators subpoenaed to testify before the United States Senate's Kefauver Committee. The committee was investigating organized crime in hearings held in a number of cities throughout the country.

Teamsters Union

In 1903, a pair of organized labor groups, the Team Drivers International Union and the Teamsters National Union, merged and created the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehouseman, and Helpers of America, also known as the IBT. Las Vegas barely existed as a dot on the map. They never could have imagined how their actions would affect the development of that city.

Steve Wynn

Few casino builders or operators have had a greater impact on their industry, and especially on contemporary Las Vegas, than Stephen Alan “Steve” Wynn. The son of an illegal bingo game operator, Wynn received an Ivy League education. The combination of the two gave him a unique perspective for a Las Vegas gaming operator of his generation. Wynn started making his mark on the Las Vegas Strip in the 1970s. The 1989 opening of his Mirage ushered in the age of expensive and opulent “megaresorts,” turning him into a visionary, controversial casino mogul.

Stardust Hotel

The Stardust Hotel became the dream of Tony Cornero, who in a sudden burst of inspiration while drinking with friends at the Louigi's bar on the Las Vegas Strip in the mid-1950s, determined to build the world's largest resort. Cornero would not live to see the completion of his dream, but his Stardust Hotel would survive for more than half a century as one of the aging icons of the Strip.

SS Rex Club

Tony Cornero, a one-time 1920s bootlegger from California and a former casino operator well known in Las Vegas, opened the S.S. Rex Club casino at Second and Fremont streets in downtown Las Vegas in 1944. Cornero, born in Italy in 1895, named the club after an ill-fated gambling ship he owned off the coast of Southern California, six years before.

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