Las Vegas is synonymous today with its many casinos. Vegas was not always all about gambling. There were many periods in Vegas’s history when it was illegal to gamble. Casino industry has experienced many ups as well as downs. Its history is long-and complex.
The 1800s and the Founding of Las Vegas
It’s difficult to look at Las Vegas’ history without seeing how the city was created. Las Vegas (Spanish for “The Meadows”) got its name because of a caravan Mexican traders who found the area a good stopping point on the trade route to Los Angeles. Las Vegas was at this point still considered Mexican territory. It was handed over to the United States by the Mexican-American War in the mid-1800s.
Despite the prohibition against gambling being in place, the popularity of gambling remained high throughout the 1800s. These laws originally imposed severe punishments on anyone who participated in or held gambling. But, as the century wore on, the laws changed a little. Gambling was legalized in 1869.
The early 1900s: Gambling Outlawed, and Legalized Again
For a few decades the legalization of gambling was in effect, but the Progressive Movement in 1909 was able to pass legislation that prohibited many games. Although this did not stop people from gambling illegally from backrooms in Las Vegas to Reno, However, as in the previous century the gambling laws were relaxed over the years.
Las Vegas saw a lot of success in 1931. The Nevada government finally made gambling legal. Construction on the Boulder Dam (now known as Hoover Dam) began in this year. Many people came to the area to find a relaxing place at the end the day. This led to an increase in the demand for gaming facilities.
Mid 1900s – The Rise of the Casino Industry
After gambling had been legalized, it was allowed to prosper. Businessmen started to focus on the attraction of tourists to the area. Thomas Hull is responsible for opening El Rancho Vegas, the first hotel-resort on the Las Vegas Strip, in 1941.
New York City’s Bugsy Siegel was the one who introduced Vegas to the big-than-life casino that would soon be the center of Las Vegas. The Flamingo casino was established by Bugsy Siegel in 1946. Siegel was murdered the following year. But his legacy survived and, in the coming years more mob-funded resorts appeared in the city.
The 1960s and Now: The Vegas We Know Today
Las Vegas experienced a second half in 20th century. This was marked by a growth in its population, number and size of resorts. The Rat Pack and Howard Hughes helped change the perception of Las Vegas from a wild west outlaw city to one that is now familiar.
The 1980s to 1990s saw the rise and development of major resorts such today as Treasure Island, Bellagio, MGM Grand, and Bellagio. Even though Las Vegas experienced economic downturns like the rest, it is now back on track to growth. With a focus on renewable energies and the natural surroundings of the city, the city plans to find new ways to bring people into the area. But the city will never forget the importance of the casino industry in its history.