Betting in Las Vegas

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Published: 02/04/2013

When Nevada’s legislature voted to legalise gambling in 1931, it was hoped that tourism revenues would help pull the state out of the Great Depression. Nobody at that time could have foreseen the incredible growth of Las Vegas into the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” Today, the city boasts of more than 145 casinos, ranking #1 in terms of number of places to enjoy table games, slots and video poker, wager at race and sports books, and play bingo and poker legally.

Including the 40-odd casinos that can be found in the neighboring municipalities of Henderson and North Las Vegas, Las Vegas is home to more than a third of all the casinos in the entire state. They generate some $10 billion in gross gaming revenues annually, as some three million visitors a month come to stay and play in the sun-drenched Southern Nevada valley.

The largest and best-known Las Vegas casinos can be found along a nine-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard referred to as “The Strip.” Almost all of the properties here belong to one of two competing conglomerates: Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. The former operates Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Planet Hollywood, Paris, the Flamingo and Bally’s, among others, while the latter owns and manages the Bellagio, Mirage, Circus Circus, Monte Carlo, Mandalay Bay and more.

Occupying the corners of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue are four massive resorts: the Tropicana, MGM Grand, New York-New York and Excalibur. As a group they contain an incredible 12,453 hotel rooms, 5,452 gaming machines and hundreds of table games. Just north of them on the west side of the Strip is MGM’s resort complex known as City Center, home to the ultra modern Aria Resort & Casino, with 150,000 square feet of gaming space, featuring 2,000 gaming machines, 224 table and poker games and another 4,004 hotel rooms.

One of the few independently owned properties on the Strip is Treasure Island, aka “TI,” with a 90,000-square-foot gaming space offering 1,500 gaming machines and 70 table and poker games. Another is the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, with 150,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,467 gaming machines, 99 table games and a 2,999-room hotel. Meanwhile, dominating the central portion of Las Vegas Boulevard are Steve Wynn’s two properties, Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, which compete for customers with Sheldon Adelson’s nearby Venetian and Palazzo casino resorts.

Towering above the north end of the Strip is the Stratosphere, featuring a 100,000-square-foot gaming space filled with 1,300 gaming machines and 57 table and poker games. Its landmark tower reaches 100 storeys above the ground, topped by the tallest free-standing observation deck in the United States.

The city of Las Vegas proper does not include the casinos on the Strip, which are actually part of “Paradise,” a township of unincorporated Clark County. “Real” Las Vegas casinos are found downtown along Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Main Street, such as the Golden Nugget, the Four Queens, Binion’s, The D and the Plaza. Four of the casino-lined city blocks downtown are closed to traffic and covered by a canopy of lights called the Fremont Street Experience. Other nearby casinos include the Gold Spike, Main Street Station, El Cortez and the California Hotel & Casino.

Located just off South Las Vegas Boulevard to the west are several other major casinos, such as the Gold Coast, the Palms and the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino, which is home to the annual World Series of Poker. Other off-Strip properties include the LVH (formerly the Hilton), Ellis Island, Tuscany’s, Terrible’s, the Silverton, the Southpoint and the M Resort in Henderson.

Two big local companies that control casinos in the Las Vegas Valley are Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming. The former has two Fiesta Casino locations in addition to Boulder Station, Palace Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station, Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch and Aliente casinos. The latter owns the Orleans, the Suncoast, Sam’s Town and Joker’s Wild, among others.

Away from the Strip and Downtown, chains of video-poker focused pubs can be found, such as PT’s, Steiner’s, Village Pub and Dotty’s. Other casino venues like the Silver Spike, Jerry’s Nugget and the Cannery in North Las Vegas, Arizona Charlie’s on Boulder Highway, and the Rampart Casino in Summerlin bring table games and Strip-style gambling to residential neighborhoods.

Most recently, William Hill bookmakers have forayed into the Las Vegas market, opening betting shops within casinos and pubs in competition with long established hotel sportsbooks. Similarly, Cantor Gaming is making inroads with mobile casino gaming and race and sports wagering. It’s been said that every supermarket and convenience store in Las Vegas has at least one slot machine installed. Gambling in Las Vegas is simply ubiquitous, like no other place on Earth.

Published on: 02/04/2013

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