The History of Las Vegas Gambling

Las Vegas gambling has a colorful history, from Prohibition to an abrupt change of leadership.

Construction on the Boulder Dam (later known as Hoover Dam) was one of the primary factors in Las Vegas’ transformation into a gambling mecca. This influx of workers and money resulted in several new hotels and casinos along the Las Vegas Strip.


Las Vegas gambling dates back to the 1800s, when it became a popular pastime for prospectors and travelers. It remained illegal until 1931, when it was made legal again.

In 1931, the Boulder Dam (later Hoover Dam) was completed and brought a large number of construction workers to Las Vegas, prompting urbanization in the city.

Additionally, it paved the way for new casinos to spring up along Fremont Street – which would eventually become known as The Strip.

The Flamingo Hotel, built by Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, quickly rose to be the epitome of luxury in Las Vegas. Soon thereafter, several other casinos followed, all funded by mobsters using illegal means for their investments.


Decriminalization is a legal procedure that removes criminal penalties from certain activities. It may replace criminal charges with civil sanctions such as referral to an education or treatment program, or payment of a fine.

Some states have recently revised their drug laws and implemented decriminalization programs, which aim to help drug users access treatment while decreasing the chances of them being arrested or convicted for a crime.

Decriminalizing drugs is increasingly being considered due to its ineffectiveness and growing youth drug usage. Furthermore, decriminalization could reduce criminality rates and enhance public health outcomes.


Legalizing gambling in Las Vegas was a landmark decision that forever altered the city’s course. It also contributed to a decline in organized crime activity around town and helped turn Las Vegas into an international tourist destination.

Gambling in the early days was mostly restricted to downtown clubs and some roadhouses along Boulder Highway. It wasn’t until 1941 that a self-contained casino resort opened on what would become the Las Vegas Strip.

Today, gambling is a major source of revenue for Las Vegas. But as gambling expands to more states and even Macau – the world’s largest gambling hub – it could potentially erode away at Las Vegas’ dominance on the gambling market.


In the early 1900s, Las Vegas Strip became a haven for criminal activity when railroad workers and tourists were drawn into illegal gambling. It wasn’t long before organized crime took advantage of this situation.

In the 1940s and 1950s, crime families invaded desert towns to develop hotels and casinos. Their presence created a culture of casino skimming and money laundering that still persists today.

In the 1990s, federal and local authorities cracked down on mobster activity. While organized crime remained at a low level during that time period, a Mob Museum still draws visitors today as it tells the tale of Chicago’s mobsters.

Changing of the Guard

Wall Street investors’ arrival in Las Vegas resulted in the purchase of many casinos, removing the Syndicate’s financial power to make gambling profitable.

At that time, a new policy was put into place which prohibited known mobster from applying for gambling licenses. This alteration had an enormous effect on how Las Vegas was run.

Mobsters eventually vanished from Las Vegas, creating a more tolerant city. This also affected how casinos advertised themselves to customers.

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