The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas

By Hal K. Rothman; Mike Davis | Go to book overview
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Growth, Services, and the Political
Economy of Gambling in Las Vegas,
1970–2000
EUGENE MOEHRING

The growth of Las Vegas has been a constant source of interest to the media and public alike. From the celebrated opening of Bugsy Siegel's fabulous Flamingo in 1946 to the majestic arrivals of Caesars Palace, the MGM Grand, and their spectacular successors, Las Vegas has become an icon of modern popular culture.

Since the early 1970s, the town has continued to boom, largely thanks to gambling (or gaming, as it is called in Nevada). Ten new major hotels arrived in that decade and a half dozen more in the 1980s. While Circus Circus (the hotel section opened in 1971), Harrah's (1974), and the Marina (1974) as well as the Maxim, Imperial Palace, and Barbary Coast (all in the late 1970s) added to the Strip's allure, the Rio, Palace Station, Gold Coast, Arizona Charlie's, Sam's Town, the Santa Fe, and other notable places helped extend the casino frontier onto new streets and into the suburbs. Downtown Las Vegas also flourished in the 1980s with Fitzgeralds skyscraper and Steve Wynn's dramatic transformation of the old Golden Nugget.

The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed still another round of development, as the twin casino cores on the Strip and downtown continued to grow. The Strip, in particular, expanded at both ends and in the middle. In 1989, Wynn established a new standard of excellence when he opened the Mirage. With its white tigers, bottle-nosed dolphins, exotic atrium, and erupting volcano, the hotel quickly surpassed Hoover Dam as the state's leading tourist attraction. This mega-resort, along

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The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas
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