Las Vegas has relied on the gaming industry almost since day one. And in an effort to keep the tourism experience fresh, casinos have come and gone on a pretty regular basis.
The city of Las Vegas was settled in 1905, and gambling was a big part of it. However, that pastime was made illegal in 1909, so hotels couldn’t operate as casinos for a few decades.
Railroad Pass Casino, at the edge of Henderson heading towards Boulder City, was built in 1931, when Nevada first legalized gambling again. That makes it the oldest operating casino in the state — and in fact, in the entire country. In those early days, it mainly served workers building the Hoover Dam. Since many of the dam workers lived in Boulder City, which happens to be the only city in Nevada where gambling remains illegal, Railroad Pass was the closest place to go.
But a casino in the Las Vegas Valley operating for over 90 years is an anomaly. Most of them last a fraction of that before being torn down, imploded and remade into something else.
The Game of Changing Vegas
Many of the downtown Las Vegas casinos have been around since the city was born — longer than Las Vegas Strip properties, and some even longer than Railroad Pass. Sort of. The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino opened in 1906 as Hotel Nevada, although it couldn’t operate as a casino between 1909 and 1931 while gambling was outlawed. Binion’s opened in 1932 as Hotel Apache. These are the types of revamping, rebranding, renaming and rebuilding practices Las Vegas still does to this day.
The El Cortez opened in 1941, and hasn’t changed its name, façade, or really anything else … making it the longest-running casino in Las Vegas itself. The Golden Nugget opened in downtown in 1946, and the Flamingo opened that same year, which makes it the oldest continually-running Strip property. The Sahara opened in 1952, but was closed from 2011 to 2014 before being rebranded SLS (and then Sahara again). Then Tropicana opened in 1957, and Caesars changed the Strip’s future as the first themed resort in 1966.
Caesars is created around the Roman theme. But once they set that trend, The Strip rinsed and repeated it over and over again. Now you can feel like you’re visiting not just Rome, but also Venice (The Venetian), Paris (Paris Las Vegas), Egypt (The Luxor), Burma (Mandalay Bay), Hollywood (Planet Hollywood), New York (New York-New York) and more. You can also travel back to the Middle Ages (Excalibur) or join the circus (Circus Circus).
The latest new casinos in Las Vegas are the luxurious Resorts World on the north Strip, and the eclectic upscale Circa Resort & Casino downtown. Both are exciting additions to the city landscape that are proving to make waves in the gaming industry. And soon the Mirage will undergo a renovation that’s expected to bring new life to The Strip.
Changing the Casino Landscape Off-Strip
Downtown Las Vegas and The Strip are always changing, but once locals-oriented casinos started being built, they seemed like a constant. Now it turns out that they don’t remain the same either.
Casino pioneer Frank Fertitta Jr.’s Station Casinos brand was established in 1976 with Palace Station, which was simply called The Casino until 1983. The company eventually opened 20 properties, including Sunset Station, Boulder Station, Texas Station, Green Valley Ranch, Red Rock Casino, several Fiesta Casinos and multiple Wildfire Gaming locations.
Fertitta retired in 1993 and turned the business over to his sons, Frank III and Lorenzo. Then he decided he wanted to privately fund another property, based on his home state of Texas. But Station Casino stockholders protested, so he sold it to the company and they branded it Texas Station.
Most locals figured the Station Casino properties would be around forever. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, three of them closed and never reopened — Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, and yes, Texas Station.
All three of those properties are now being destroyed and will be used for non-casino purposes to remove competition. Meanwhile, the Station Casinos family is expanding again with the new Durango Station in the southwest corner of the valley.
Vegas is Like the Craps Table
Just like you never know what you’re going to get when you roll the dice at a casino craps table, you can never really tell how the gaming industry is going to change next. One thing we can all bet on is that Las Vegas is not going away, no matter how often its casino properties change or grow or develop.
In fact, Vegas is one of the few cities that has proven it will always bounce back, no matter what happens. It survived a mass shooting and it survived the pandemic. It knows how to entertain and it knows how to give value. And that makes is a great place to call home.
Let an Expert Guide Your Journey
Las Vegas is always exciting and always a world-class city that everyone knows. Many people consider it just a tourist town, but that’s doing it a disservice. Vegas welcomes tourists, yes. It’s built on tourism. But it’s a wonderful and unique place to live. It’s like always being in paradise.
If you don’t want to live in Las Vegas full time, now is the perfect time to consider purchasing a second home in the Valley. It’s a great investment since home prices are now coming back down to 2020 levels. If you vacation in Las Vegas, paying resort prices for your room, parking, meals and entertainment every time you come to town can end up costing thousands per trip. Instead, you could rent out your home when you’re not living in it, or you could just enjoy the fact that you have a place to stay here, any time you want.
And the good news is, it’s more than possible to find a good home in a great Las Vegas location and start your own legacy for the future. For help finding your ideal dream home in the entertainment capital of the world, look no further than community expert Dulcie Crawford.
Dulcie is a native of Las Vegas with over 24 years of local real estate expertise. She understands the city and its trends and opportunities more than anyone. Dulcie has watched Vegas rise and fall and rise again, and can help you pinpoint and locate the perfect home for you.
To find out more about working with Dulcie and her award-winning team, or to get more information about the current housing market conditions, properties featured on this blog, or our Hot Market Listings, please contact Dulcie Crawford directly at (702) 505-2775.