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Las Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. With top-class entertainment venues, great restaurants, incredible casinos, and plenty of sightseeing opportunities, it’s easy to see why visitors flock to it every year.

Figures from 2019 show Las Vegas attracted over 42 million tourists, bringing in an estimated $10 billion in revenue. Boasting over 150,000 hotel rooms, the city saw an average occupancy rate of 88.9% through 2019, with weekend rates an impressive 95%.

Vegas owes its success to gambling and is unquestionably the most famous casino hotspot in the world. A recent survey estimated that out of those 42 million visitors, 81% of them gambled while in the city. 

Not surprising given the many casinos on offer, including Caesar’s Palace, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, MGM Grand, Treasure Island, and more. But how did Vegas become the gambling mecca it is today?

1. History Of Las Vegas

The History of Las Vegas is as fascinating as the city itself and it’s no surprise that Sin City has been the subject of several blockbuster Hollywood films. Located in the Mojave Desert, Clark County, Nevada, the area was once home to Native Americans.

In 1829, the area was first ‘discovered’ by outsiders when Mexican explorer Rafael Rivera, diverted from the Old Spanish Trail in search of water. He stumbled across a verdant oasis of grasslands, hence the name Las Vegas, which is Spanish for ‘The Meadows’.

2. The Railway

After the Las Vegas Springs were discovered, the area was used as a rest stop for settlers traveling the Old Spanish Trail to California. In 1890, railroad developers saw Las Vegas’s potential, and by 1905 Las Vegas was connected not only to the coast but to the country’s main railways too. 

That was the turning point for the city which quickly became transformed as houses, shops and bars appeared. On May 15, 1905, Las Vegas was officially founded, and illegal casinos and bars flourished in the city, catching the attention of organized crime mobs.

The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1931 saw gambling legalized once more as thousands of workers headed to Vegas. New casinos and entertainment venues quickly followed, built along the only paved road in the city – today known as the Glitter Gulch. 

3. The Las Vegas Strip

El Rancho Vegas is regarded as the first Las Vegas hotel, opening in 1941 on Highway 91, marking the beginning of the Las Vegas Strip. It quickly became a hit and attracted the attention of crime bosses, including Bugsy Siegel, who built the glamorous Flamingo Hotel and set the standard for all future hotels.

The Strip – and the casino scene – exploded, and in the 1960’s billionaire businessman Howard Hughes bought the Desert Inn and several other hotels as the mob slowly departed. But it was the construction of Steve Wynn’s Mirage luxury casino hotel resort that led to the spectacular buildings and casinos that line the strip today.

4. Slot Machines Boom

The advent of luxury resort casinos to the Strip saw the popularity of slot machines rocket – the Wynn Las Vegas offers visitors an impressive 1,800 slot machines. Easy to learn, simple to play, and a great way to win some money or spend time with friends, casino slots’ popularity has now spread online.

People around the world can now get the Vegas atmosphere through playing slots online at sites like Jackpot Party, the perk of heading to that particular site is that it is completely free so players aren’t at any risk at all of losing any money while they’re having fun. It also enables tourists to brush up on their slot technique before heading to Vegas for a holiday.

5. Top Ten Casinos in Vegas

  • Wynn Las Vegas
  • Bellagio
  • The Venetian
  • Caesars Palace
  • Flamingo Las Vegas
  • Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
  • Circa
  • Golden Nugget
  • MGM Grand
  • Sunset Station

6. Competition

The success of Las Vegas has inevitably drawn envious glances from around the world, as other countries seek to cash in on the boom in gambling. Macau, Nassau, Monaco, London, Paris, and Atlantic City are all popular gaming destinations, so is Las Vegas still number one?

Macau

The Far East’s premier gambling destination, Macau is China’s answer to Las Vegas. Long considered the reserve of ex-pats and wealthy VIPS, the resort is slowly becoming more mainstream in its offering, although not every budget is catered for.

The famous casinos here include Macau Palace Casino, Lisboa Casino, and Galaxy Waldo Casino, and the entertainment, restaurants, and facilities are all excellent. While it may not be about to usurp Las Vegas as the world’s best, it can claim to be the best in Asia.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City is a city that loves slot machines and boasts the biggest choice of games around. While it may lack the glitz, glamour, and variety of Vegas, it’s still a city that’s well worth a visit in its own right.

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo on the coast of Monaco was made famous by James Bond movies and it ticks all the boxes when it comes to luxury. With casinos such as Place du Casino, Casino Café de Paris, Société des Bains de Mer, and stunning views of the Mediterranean, it’s hard to beat.

Arguably the premier gambling destination in Europe, it lacks the variety and vibrancy of Vegas but comes out on top if glamour and luxury are your things. 

7. The Future

Las Vegas will always be the spiritual home of gambling and its place as the world’s number one gambling destination looks assured for years to come. Thanks to its unique history, 24/7 culture, and its ability to cater to every budget and taste, it remains the gambling capital of the world.