Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the epitome of the American Dream – everything here is larger than life and the city abounds with promises of breaking the bank at one of the extravagant casinos.

Las Vegas History

The history of Vegas is closely tied in with the creation of a gambling culture in the United States. In the late 1800s and early 20th Century, saloons sprang up across America; places where travellers could meet to drink, interact and often gamble.

Four cities cemented the popularity of saloons, providing a platform for the US casino culture: New Orleans, St Louis, Chicago and San Fransisco. It was Las Vegas, however, that took casinos to the next level.

Following the years of prohibition in the early 1900s, gambling was legalised in Nevada in 1931. This led to the rise of America’s first official casinos in Vegas, and high rollers have flocked to the desert to chase the dream ever since.

Las Vegas’s iconic casino buildings are the stuff of legend. Casino-hotels like the Bellagio and The Venetian are instantly recognisable across the globe, having featured in numerous motion pictures and television shows.

Vegas in its Prime

For well over half a century, Las Vegas was the undisputed global gambling capital. The Las Vegas Strip symbolises America’s fast-living, high spending culture and spawned the concept of the hotel and casino resort complex, so much so that these are now frequently termed "Las Vegas-style hotel-casinos’.

Capital outlays for new or refurbished hotel-casinos on the Strip between 1989 and 2005 totalled a massive $30 billion.

Pretender to the Throne

But now Vegas is being challenged by a pretender to its throne, in what would seem to be the most unlikely of places.

Macau used to be a sleepy Portuguese colony on a tiny 28-km? peninsula of Mainland China, but was repatriated to China in 1999. By 2006 it had surpassed the Las Vegas Strip in gambling revenues, pulling in almost $7 billion at a growth rate of 22% per year!

Macau is now home to 28 hotel-casinos, with Las Vegas Sands owner, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, leading the expansion.

Adelson conceived the Cotai Strip in imitation of its Las Vegas counterpart and modelled the large expanse of concentrated resort area around the $2.4 billion The Venetian Macau hotel and casino resort, which itself is modelled on The Venetian Las Vegas.

Despite developments in Macau, Las Vegas sill holds a certain appeal for many people around the world, however, and is sure to continue to hold onto its iconic status as one of the world’s foremost entertainment-based cities.

Some of the top hotel and casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip: