The Travel Trolley

Viva Las Vegas (Part II)

Photo by Todd DeFeo / (c) 2011

By Todd DeFeo / (c) 2009-2011

LAS VEGAS – Playing the penny slots makes it rather difficult to gamble all that much.

Think about it: One could stay in town for a month and only bet $14 at the penny slots. Allegedly, it’s possible to spend an entire week in Vegas and bet only one penny. Just think of how many pulls one could have on a penny slot machine playing a $10 bill. At the blackjack table, that could be gone in seconds.

Nevada Gov. Fred Balzar paved the way for modern day Vegas. On March 19, 1931, he signed into law a bill that allowed gambling. The Northern Club on Fremont Street has the distinction of being the first legal gambling establishment in Las Vegas, and while the basics of Vegas have stayed the same over the years, the city has changed – the hotels today are flashier and the money bet has grown exponentially.

Vegas vaulted into legend starting in the 1940s and continuing through the 1960s. Thomas Hull’s El Rancho, credited as Sin City’s first themed hotel, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s Flamingo, both of which opened in the 1940s, changed the meaning of the casino-hotel. Vegas’ stature continued to rise as The Rat Pack, Elvis and Liberace became synonymous with the city.

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