How Las Vegas became the casino capital – and why you should visit!

Samuel Edwards

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When you think of the bright signs and flashing lights associated with the bustling casino, your mind will usually take a trip to Las Vegas – namely, the Sin City strip. Whilst the concept of gambling didn’t necessarily originate from this iconic landmark, it’s certainly considered to be the epicentre of all things gambling by people from all across the world.

In Canada, we boast Niagara Falls as our casino capital – a far cry from what punters expect to find when taking their chances in Las Vegas. Admittedly, you can’t argue with the iconic sights, but with just three casinos on offer, it’s easy to see why the cascading landmark didn’t quite grab the title of overall gaming centre! If you’re looking to expand your gambling horizons then you might want to know a little bit more about what lies across the pond, ready to introduce you to a whole new world of gaming!

Allow us to take you back to the beginning and show you the transformation that this casino capital has taken over the years. Read on to find out more.


Our story begins in 1905, when construction workers were tasked with laying down the tracks to connect Las Vegas and the Pacific coastline with a railway line. The idea was to enable an easier way to travel between other major cities such as Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. But why are we telling you this? Well, unsurprisingly, this proved to be a long and arduous task for the workers, and they needed a way to unwind after a hard day’s work. This is where it’ll start to fall into place – the hard-working crew began playing card games amongst themselves, as an easy form of entertainment.

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What started out as a bit of fun after work, soon contorted into the beginnings of a Las Vegas crime hub. The state authorities quickly made movements to shut down these organisations, and by 1910, they had outlawed all forms of gambling. This, however, proved not to be the solution they were looking for, as it led to this popular pastime simply moving underground.

Now, players would set up gambling tables wherever they could – from basements of restaurant kitchens, to the back room of their local bar – if an area was seemingly unseen, there would most likely be a gathering of people playing cards in it.


By 1931, gambling could rear its head once again, as it was finally re-legalized. This allowed legitimate casinos to begin opening up across the city, although they were only small, and nothing compared to the grand constructions that we’re used to seeing today.


Fast forward ten years, and Las Vegas was gradually being filled with extravagant resort-style casinos, beginning with the El Rancho Vegas Resort. The ranch signified a massive step forward for the future of casinos, illustrating a way to not only provide visitors with top-class gaming tables, but also offer them swimming pools and horse-riding facilities. This made for a more all-round experience, delivering fun and relaxation, alongside the betting services that the visitors originally came for.

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For years, gangs and mobsters seemingly ruled over the Vegas Strip, with Bugsy Siegal opening The Flamingo Resort in 1946. This was the first casino resort that took direct inspiration from Hollywood glamour, that was so prevalent at the time. This is still a theme that dominates the scene today – promoting The American Dream and the chance to make it big, in “the city that never sleeps”.


Finally, the city was free from the mobster’s ruling and it began to flourish once more. The first “mega” resort was brought onto The Strip in 1989, by Steven Wynn, and was called The Mirage Hotel and Casino. This marked yet another new age for casino establishments, where they leaned into evolving their architectural style in favour of imitating the canals of Venice and the famous figures of Ancient Roman marble statues, along with grand murals on the ceilings.

The artwork and sophistication of this new wave of casino construction brought in an even larger group of players, that helped to create the buzz of gaming in Vegas that we know today.

1996-present day

With the boom of the internet in the mid ‘90s, it wasn’t long before online casino gaming burst onto the scene. Starting off relatively primitive, these simple sites still draw in a large crowd, with players being delighted by the opportunity to play their favorite casino classics from the comfort of their own home.

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What’s more, online casino gaming has also taken a leaf out of Vegas’ glitzy book, taking inspiration from the fast-paced scene, and injecting a little bit of that sought-after magic into their own games. In fact, you’ll even find players from across the pond in the UK, or next door in Canada, enjoying a game or two, online, that have been developed to replicate the excitement of rolling the dice on The Strip.

It’s worth noting that to get to this point, provinces in Canada have been allowed to regulate their very own gambling sites. For example, Alberta has recently debuted Play Alberta, which sees residents playing online casino games under the watchful eye of the local regularity board and GameSense. To compare this to Las Vegas – imagine these organizations are that burly-looking security guard that casts a watchful eye on your chosen resort’s casino doors – just virtual!

Whilst your local casino might not have all the glitz of The Strip, you’ve got your fair share of options. And if your budget won’t stretch to a plane ticket – online gaming has you covered. Bring Las Vegas to your home with just a few clicks; the only question that remains is which game will you try first?

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