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From Monte Carlo to Las Vegas: A History of Iconic Gaming



Las Vegas has been a symbol of the casino industry since it opened in Nevada in 1931. Tourists from all over the world flock to the city to experience its incendiary atmosphere. As glitzy palaces of entertainment and glamour have grown out of the desert, Sin City has been depicted in some iconic films. The city also attracts many people due to the serious gambling in the casinos. Most travellers are interested in the history of these iconic places, which have been replaced by newer and more glamorous structures in the 1990s and 2000s. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the history of the iconic casinos of Las Vegas and beyond!

The Emergence of the Casino in Monte Carlo

According to, the European casino craze began when a single ball was thrown in the elegant hall of a small principality on the French Riviera called Monte Carlo. None other than Charles Garnier, creator of the Paris Opera, designed the ballroom and François Blanc, a successful casino owner known as the Magician of Gomburg, founded the casino in 1863. Unsurprisingly, the Monte Carlo casino became Blanc’s biggest success.

To this day, the secret of Blanc’s success remains a mystery, but perhaps the clue lies in the timing of Casino de Monte Carlo’s opening. By the time Blanc accepted Prince Charles III’s offer to build a new casino on the site of the casino on the square, gambling had been banned in Monaco since 1835. Blanc’s mission was to stimulate the economy and make Monaco prosperous and independent. Not a year later, Blanc’s luxury casino made a significant contribution to the economic development of Monaco, which at the time was a mere 130 hectares of land with 22 hectares reclaimed from the sea. 

The History of Las Vegas as the Casino Capital of the World

Dunes. Sands. Riviera. Desert hotel. Sahara. Tropicana. Flamingo. Las Vegas Strip, a boulevard in Las Vegas evokes a sea of memories. Looking at it now, when it’s lined with more colourful establishments, it’s hard to imagine how revolutionary the Las Vegas Strip was at mid-century. 

It started out as Las Vegas Boulevard just outside the city limits, a grimy street with a mix of cheap motels, wedding chapels and a few hotels. The El Rancho Vegas Hotel (now defunct) opened in 1941, and although another iconic hotel, the Flamingo, opened in 1946, it took at least a decade for the Strip to truly blossom.

It was Bugsy Siegel’s vision that changed the Strip forever. Siegel and his mob partners spent $1.2 million to realise their vision, a huge sum at the time. The construction costs earned the resort the unfortunate nickname “Bugsy Folly”. The completion and grand opening of the Flamingo ran into a number of serious problems, which, like the expansion of nearby McCarran Field that began around the same time, included problems with the storage of sand and gravel delivered to the distant city of Las Vegas. 

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Bugsy had to learn firsthand that Las Vegas was a very different beast from other cities in which he and his syndicate had invested. Nevertheless, when the Flamingo finally opened on a hot Fourth of July weekend, Siegel imagined a lavish poolside celebration of glamorous celebrities and revelers basking in the warm desert sun. 

Landmark Casino Resorts Today

Time doesn’t stand still. Which means the industry has to do the same to keep up with the zeitgeist! 

Having remained eternally iconic since the 20th century, New York’s Empire City Resort deserves a special commendation, as it is one of the largest gambling arenas in the region, with 5,200 slot machines spread across some 510,000 square feet!

When it comes to iconic, old Las Vegas buildings, most of them have been demolished or significantly altered over the past few decades. Caesars Palace is no such thing! Founded in the 1960s by Jay Sarno, Caesars Palace was the first casino resort in Las Vegas to be decorated in an Ancient Roman theme. Today, its atmosphere still reflects the same character as in its opening days. It has 6,180 spacious rooms, truly fashionable shops from world famous brands and a casino to deliver the ultimate in fun! 

Monaco’s fabulousness also does not stand alone in the history of iconic casino resorts! Founded by François Blanc in 1863, Casino de Monte Carlo was once taken over to save his family from financial difficulties by the famous Elsa Palmero. He turned the establishment into the most popular gambling establishment for the city’s entourage. Today, there are exclusive private rooms where both Hollywood queens and European nobility can have a blast.

Influence on Pop Culture

Irreplaceable Man – Elvis Presley lived for seven years at the Hilton Hotel (formerly known as the International Hotel) on Paradise Road in Las Vegas. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was the reason for the huge demand for accommodation in the city. People wanted to see him enjoying his huge property. Even today there are tourists who want to find out where the legend sang. 

Another film that deserves a mention is The Hangover, which is fast paced, humorous and also works as an advertisement for Vegas. The Hangover opens with a view of the iconic Caesars Hotel as three friends awaken after a raucous bachelor party. One of the scenes also takes place at the Forum Centre. The hotel has offered to use its iconic architecture as a backdrop for the blockbuster. 

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