Gaming and Tourism

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson (1933 - ), the at times controversial billionaire casino developer who made and lost fortunes in the 1960s, rode the tide of the personal computer revolution in the 1980s and 1990s with his computer trade show, and used the revenue to build The Venetian and The Palazzo on the Strip.

Sarann Knight Preddy, Entrepreneur

Sarann Knight Preddy provides a unique perspective on women and gaming, as the first Black woman to receive a Nevada gaming license.

Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr. suffered the pains of racial segregation in Nevada years before he was recognized as one of the greatest all-around performers. Born in Harlem in 1925 to vaudeville dancers, Davis learned to dance from his father and Will Mastin, whom he called his uncle. They formed the Will Mastin Trio, and Davis continued that billing with them long after he became a star. Throughout his career, he amazed critics, fans, and fellow entertainers with his ability to sing, dance, and play numerous instruments.


When the troubled Club Bingo resort, on the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, went bankrupt in 1950 after three years in business, its operator, former Los Angeles jeweler Milton Prell, saw a chance for recovery by building a new hotel-casino, which he would call the Sahara. Prell talked Desert Inn hotel investor A. Pollard Simon into raising the money for it, and convinced Flamingo Hotel builder Del Webb to construct the Sahara in exchange for a twenty percent ownership share.

Riviera Hotel

Originally to be called the Casa Blanca, the Riviera hotel project languished in the early 1950s as its five partners, mostly from Miami, ran into licensing problems after the Nevada Tax Commission learned that one of its applicants had ties to the infamous mobster Meyer Lansky. In 1953, the commission approved a new set of partners, including Harpo and Gummo Marx of the Marx Brothers comedy group.

Riverside Hotel

The Riverside Hotel has been a fixture of the Reno community and skyline for 130 years. The Lake House was the first structure on this spot along Virginia Street just south of the Truckee River. Myron C. Lake built the lodging and resting place in 1870. Lake had purchased the land and adjacent bridge crossing from Charles W. Fuller nine years earlier.

Red Rooster

The Red Rooster was one of the most famous nightclubs in Las Vegas from the early 1930s to the early 1950s on present-day Las Vegas Boulevard, where as a "speakeasy" it was once raided by federal government agents for selling liquor during Prohibition.

In the 1920s and early 1930s, while the federal Volstead Act outlawing the sale of alcohol was in force, Las Vegas became notorious for tolerating both illegal gambling and the consumption of alcohol in local clubs, mainly on Fremont Street downtown.

Raymond I. (Pappy) Smith and Harold Smith Sr.

Raymond I. "Pappy" Smith, one of the foremost pioneers of Nevada gaming, and his son Harold Smith Sr. were the two men chiefly responsible for the creation of Harolds Club. Harolds was one of the first modern American casinos, and it put Nevada gaming on the national and even international map.

Plaza Hotel

[VR Morph by Howard Goldbaum]

The construction of the Union Plaza Hotel-Casino, now the Plaza Hotel, was a turning point for downtown Las Vegas. It replaced the Union Pacific Railroad depot, built in 1940, and the park just east of it. It signified how downtown Las Vegas was changing and touched off a long-term redevelopment effort that continues today.

Pioneer Club

Las Vegas has its share of icons, but few are better known or longer lasting than "Vegas Vic," the huge neon-lit cowboy figure that has greeted visitors for many decades. Although he has been part of downtown for more than half a century, the casino he towers over predates him.


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