There are around 60 casinos active in the Las Vegas area, all competing for the same tourists. Famous casinos rise to the top through a combination of enticing comfort amenities—good hotels, great restaurants, etc.—and eye-catching architecture.
Everything about Vegas is designed to grab your attention and hold it for a long time. In this article, we provide an overview of some of the most interesting gambling destinations.
It’s easy to forget that Vegas didn’t even formally exist as a town until the early 20th century after railway expansion in the west, making it easier to travel between California and Nevada. The year was 1905, and while Vegas residents were likely delighted by their home’s new status, they didn’t immediately build the Bellagio.
Gambling didn’t enter the equation until 1910, after the state of Nevada implemented a blanket prohibition on all things gambling related. Reactively, Vegas became an outlaw hotspot for gaming.
Gambling wasn’t legalized in Nevada until 1931, in reaction to the Hoover Dam’s construction. Suddenly, Nevada was more livable, and the State Legislature used that opportunity to turn Vegas into a revenue-generating destination—possibly suppressing outlaw activity with the same move.
Since then, Vegas has become home to the world’s most famous casinos, namely Bellagio Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, and Luxor. And with new locations opening up all the time, it’s safe to say that Vegas will continue to thrive as a casino city for generations to come.
It may be unfair to call Macau the “Vegas of Asia.” For one thing, its history with gambling runs much deeper. Gambling was legalized in Macau by the Portuguese government in 1849—almost one century before Vegas.
Granted, its transformation into a full-blown tourist “strip,” was slower. Efforts were made in the 1930s to take advantage of its legal gambling status, but the town didn’t really take off until the 1960s when a business group brought Western-style gambling to Macau. Since then it has been a major destination, attracting players from all over the world.
In fact, Macau outperforms Vegas. Not every time, but since the early 2000s there has been a steady trend of Macau generating more revenue than the strip—despite having 40 casinos to Vegas’ 60.
Now, western players can find many familiar games in Macau, such as Pokies and Roulette. Even some of the locations are the same, with the most well-known casinos being the Venetian and Wynn. While Macau had previously enforced a “monopoly,” law to guarantee more opportunity for local establishments, that ended in 2002 when the government allowed several Vegas establishments, including the Mirage to build locations there.
Monte Carlo is a land-based casino in Monaco that has been in operation for almost 160 years. Like so many casinos, it was built as a way of attracting tourists and bringing in revenue.
Built in the style of a palace home, the Monte Carlo was originally only licensed as a temporary business. The operators were given 30 years to run both a disease treatment spa—a set of services most modern casinos no longer offer—and gambling tables.
More than a century later, we know that the arrangement was anything but temporary. It has now become a pop culture icon. In addition to regular associations with James Bond’s adventures, Ben Mezrich’s book “Busting Vegas,” Mezrich describes a highly fictionalized account of how an MIT team of blackjack players traveled to the Casino de Monte-Carlo and attempted to “break the bank.”
Like Vegas, Atlantic City draws its history from the era of prohibition. During the 1920s and 1930s, this seaside town drew significant tourist attention as a prime location to both enjoy fine views, while also sampling the local “after-hours,” opportunities.
Atlantic City dabbled in the nightlife industry for decades, developing a hearty club scene in the process, but struggled to attain economic consistency as the city’s popularity waxed and waned.
That changed in 1976 when the New Jersey legislature passed a bill that would change gambling laws forever, turning Atlantic City into “the Vegas of the East.”
Currently, the Borgata is the most successful and famous casino in the area, but there are 8 other options to choose from, including the Tropicana. While Atlantic City isn’t nearly as saturated as Vegas, it entices tourists with its proximity to the sea, and its thriving city culture.