What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas

James Lopez
August 10, 2023
What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas


What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas: The vibrant city of Las Vegas, renowned for its dazzling lights and electrifying entertainment, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with the world of gambling. At the heart of this glitzy metropolis lies a captivating tale of opulence and risk-taking that dates back decades.  

The answer to this inquiry transports us to a bygone era when the city was on the cusp of its transformation into a global gambling mecca. The El Cortez Hotel and Casino, a timeless establishment that has withstood the test of time, proudly holds the title of the oldest casino in Las Vegas. Standing as a testament to the city’s enduring allure, the El Cortez opened its doors in 1941, and its history is steeped in the fascinating evolution of Las Vegas from a dusty desert outpost to a world-renowned entertainment hub.

With its vintage charm and iconic neon signage, the El Cortez continues to draw visitors seeking a glimpse into the past while enjoying the excitement of modern gaming. Exploring the history of the oldest casino in Las Vegas unveils not only the story of this remarkable establishment but also reflects the captivating narrative of a city that perpetually reinvents itself while preserving its captivating origins.

What were the first five casinos in Las Vegas?

What Was the First Casino in Las Vegas? A History

  • Las Vegas: The Beginning
  • The Five Oldest Casinos in Las Vega
  • The Hotel Nevada (1905) 
  • Arizona Club (1905) 
  • The Northern Club (1920) 
  • Boulder Club (1929) 
  • Pair O’ Dice (1931) 
  • Honorable Mention.

The origins of Las Vegas as a gambling haven are closely intertwined with the emergence of its first five casinos, each playing a pivotal role in shaping the city’s destiny. The Flamingo Hotel and Casino, launched in 1946 by mobster Bugsy Siegel, marked the beginning of an era that would forever alter the city’s landscape. Its luxurious ambiance and entertainment offerings set the tone for the casinos that followed.

The El Rancho Vegas, opened in 1941, holds the distinction of being the first resort on the famous Las Vegas Strip, featuring a Western theme that captured the imagination of early visitors. The Last Frontier, established in 1942, brought a touch of Old West charm to the Strip with its rustic allure. Just a year later, the Thunderbird Hotel introduced a new level of glamour and sophistication to Las Vegas, while the Desert Inn, founded in 1950, solidified the city’s reputation as a glamorous destination for high-profile clientele.

These pioneering casinos not only contributed to the rise of Las Vegas as a gambling destination but also set the stage for the city’s evolution into an international entertainment capital. Their stories illuminate the city’s transformation from a dusty outpost to a dazzling metropolis, forever etching their names into the chronicles of Las Vegas’ history.

What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas

What is the oldest casino in Las Vegas?

Golden Gate Hotel & Casino

Golden Gate Hotel & Casino: Firsts

As the city’s original casino, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino brought about many Las Vegas “firsts”, including: 1905: Land for Golden Gate (previously Hotel Nevada) is purchased, making it the first casino in Las Vegas.

The El Cortez Hotel and Casino proudly holds the esteemed title of the oldest casino in Las Vegas. Established in 1941, this iconic establishment has stood as a witness to the city’s remarkable evolution from a desert outpost to a world-renowned entertainment hub. Situated in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, the El Cortez exudes vintage charm and nostalgia, characterized by its classic architecture and iconic neon signs.

Having weathered the passing decades, the El Cortez embodies the enduring spirit of Las Vegas’ gambling heritage. Its early years were marked by the presence of legendary figures like Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and a clientele that included Hollywood’s elite. The casino’s historical significance goes beyond its age; it played a crucial role in shaping the gambling culture of the city, influencing subsequent generations of casinos that would follow its lead.

Despite the glitz and glamor that have transformed Las Vegas over the years, the El Cortez remains a symbol of authenticity and a testament to the city’s roots. It serves as a living bridge between the past and the present, offering visitors an opportunity to experience a slice of history while indulging in modern gaming entertainment. As the oldest casino in Las Vegas, the El Cortez continues to captivate guests with its rich history and timeless allure.

Who had the first casino in Vegas?

Thomas Hull

Thomas Hull is credited with opening the first hotel resort, El Rancho Vegas, on the Las Vegas Strip in 1941. However, it was New York City gangster Bugsy Siegel who gave Vegas its first taste of the larger-than-life casinos that would soon dominate the area. His casino, The Flamingo, opened in 1946.

The distinction of having the first casino in Las Vegas belongs to a pioneering figure in the city’s history, J.W. “Jake” Summers. In 1931, when gambling was officially legalized in the state of Nevada, Summers seized the opportunity and established the Meadows Club. This modest establishment, situated on Highway 91 (now known as the Las Vegas Strip), laid the foundation for the city’s transformation into a gambling paradise.

The Meadows Club, although rudimentary compared to the extravagant casinos of today, marked the beginning of Las Vegas’ evolution into a hub of entertainment and chance. It set the stage for subsequent entrepreneurs and visionaries who would contribute to the city’s growth and shape its unique character. While the Meadows Club faced its share of challenges and eventually changed ownership, its role as the first casino in Las Vegas solidifies its place in history.

Jake Summers’ venture exemplifies the pioneering spirit that has defined Las Vegas since its earliest days. From the Meadows Club’s humble beginnings to the opulent resorts that now line the Strip, the legacy of that first casino endures as a reminder of the city’s enduring commitment to excitement and entertainment.

What is the biggest casino in Las Vegas?

The Wynn and Encore resorts

What is the Biggest Casino in Vegas? The flower-filled combo of the Wynn and Encore resorts win the title of the biggest casino in Sin City. This luxury resort betting floor features 191,424-square-feet of space with over 1,800 slot machines and 180 table games to satisfy your gambling fantasy.

The crown of the largest casino in Las Vegas is firmly placed upon the majestic shoulders of the Venetian and The Palazzo complex. This colossal resort, owned by Las Vegas Sands Corporation, boasts a staggering expanse of gaming space that stretches over an impressive 120,000 square feet. The Venetian and The Palazzo offer a luxurious and immersive experience that goes beyond gaming, capturing the essence of Italy with their stunning architecture, canals, and gondola rides.

This sprawling entertainment hub houses an extensive array of table games, slot machines, and high-stakes gaming rooms that cater to a diverse range of visitors. In addition to its vast gaming area, the resort features a plethora of world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment options, making it a true destination within a destination.

The Venetian and The Palazzo’s grandeur is a testament to Las Vegas’ penchant for opulence and extravagance. Beyond its sheer size, this resort stands as a symbol of the city’s evolution into an international entertainment mecca, offering an unforgettable blend of gaming, leisure, and opulent ambiance that continues to attract visitors from around the globe.

What is the newest casino in Las Vegas?

Resorts World Las Vegas opened just over a year ago (late June 2021), while travel to Las Vegas was still at a pandemic-induced trickle.

The newest casino in Las Vegas was the Circa Resort & Casino. Opened in October 2020, Circa injected a fresh burst of energy into downtown Las Vegas. Boasting a contemporary yet nostalgic aesthetic, Circa redefines the downtown landscape with its 777-room hotel tower and a vibrant casino space spanning two stories.

One of Circa’s standout features is its Stadium Swim, an expansive rooftop pool deck with a massive LED screen and multiple pools that transform into a lively day and night venue. The casino itself offers a modern gaming experience, complete with a wide range of slot machines, table games, and a high-limit gaming area.

Circa’s arrival signifies the city’s perpetual reinvention, merging the classic appeal of old Las Vegas with innovative entertainment concepts. Its emphasis on creating a dynamic and immersive environment aligns with the evolving preferences of modern visitors. As Las Vegas continues to evolve, Circa Resort & Casino’s introduction adds another layer of excitement to the city’s rich tapestry of gaming and entertainment. 

What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas

What is the most famous casino in Vegas?

The Bellagio is the most famous casino and is recognized as the best casino in Las Vegas. It is located at Las Vegas Strip. The Bellagio resort is under the control and ownership of MGM International Resorts.

The Bellagio stands as the epitome of fame and grandeur among the casinos of Las Vegas. Its iconic status has been etched into popular culture, thanks to its breathtaking architecture, luxurious ambiance, and world-renowned attractions. The Bellagio’s famed dancing fountains, choreographed to music and lights, create a mesmerizing spectacle that has become synonymous with the Las Vegas experience.

The casino’s opulent interior offers a diverse array of gaming options, including a vast selection of slot machines, table games, and a high-stakes poker room frequented by professionals and enthusiasts alike. The Bellagio is also home to the exquisite Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which showcase stunning seasonal displays that draw visitors from around the world.

The Bellagio’s association with luxury, sophistication, and entertainment has cemented its reputation as the most famous casino in Las Vegas. Its appearances in movies, television shows, and media coverage have solidified its status as an iconic landmark on the Strip. Beyond its gaming offerings, the Bellagio offers a comprehensive resort experience, combining top-tier dining, high-end shopping, and world-class entertainment. Its enduring popularity makes it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking the quintessential Las Vegas experience.

What makes the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino significant in Las Vegas history?

The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino holds historical significance as one of the pioneering establishments in Las Vegas. It witnessed the growth of the city from a small desert outpost to the bustling entertainment and gambling hub it is today.

The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino stands as a historical cornerstone in the vibrant tapestry of Las Vegas. It holds the distinction of being the city’s oldest operating hotel and casino, having opened its doors in 1906 as the Hotel Nevada. This landmark establishment witnessed Las Vegas’ transformation from a remote railway stop into a bustling gambling and entertainment hub.

The Golden Gate is particularly noteworthy for introducing a pivotal element to the city’s identity: the first official “casino” in Las Vegas. In 1931, when gambling was legalized in Nevada, the Golden Gate was one of the first establishments to obtain a gaming license, setting the stage for the city’s evolution into a gambling paradise.

Beyond its historical significance, the Golden Gate is renowned for its enduring charm and unique character. It blends the nostalgia of Las Vegas’ past with modern amenities, capturing the essence of the city’s evolution. Its iconic shrimp cocktail, offered at the casino’s restaurant, further cements its place in pop culture.

The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino is not only a place of hospitality and entertainment but a living museum that encapsulates Las Vegas’ journey from humble beginnings to global fame. Its legacy serves as a constant reminder of the city’s pioneering spirit and its unwavering commitment to providing excitement and memories for generations of visitors.

Are there other historic casinos in Las Vegas?

Absolutely, Las Vegas is dotted with historic casinos that have played pivotal roles in shaping the city’s identity and gambling culture. The Flamingo Hotel & Casino, established in 1946 by mobster Bugsy Siegel, marked the beginning of the modern era of casinos on the Strip. Its luxurious atmosphere, complete with lush gardens and entertainment offerings, set a new standard for Las Vegas resorts.

The El Rancho Vegas, opened in 1941, holds the distinction of being the first resort on the Las Vegas Strip, introducing the concept of themed resorts. The Sahara Hotel & Casino, founded in 1952, showcased the Rat Pack’s performances and added to the city’s glamour.

The Dunes Hotel & Casino, operating from 1955 to 1993, was known for its iconic Sultan’s Table buffet and its classic neon sign that has become synonymous with vintage Las Vegas.

These historic casinos have left an indelible mark on Las Vegas, contributing to its evolution into a global entertainment capital. Preserving elements of their legacy, even as the city continues to reinvent itself, these establishments remind visitors of the city’s rich history and the foundation upon which its modern-day allure is built.

What Is The Oldest Casino In Las Vegas


The tale of the oldest casino in Las Vegas, the El Cortez Hotel and Casino, is a captivating journey through time that mirrors the city’s transformation from a modest gambling destination to a global entertainment capital. As we reflect on the rich history of this iconic establishment, it becomes evident that the El Cortez is not merely a place to play Casino games of chance, but a living testament to the enduring spirit of Las Vegas itself.

The El Cortez’s vintage allure, characterized by its retro architecture and neon-lit façade, stands as a link between the past and the present. Its role in shaping the gambling culture of Las Vegas and its role as a witness to the city’s many evolutions underscore its significance in the broader context of entertainment history. From its early days as a hotspot for the Rat Pack to its present-day allure for those seeking a taste of nostalgia, the El Cortez continues to write its story in the glittering pages of Las Vegas lore.

In essence, the story of the oldest casino in Las Vegas is a microcosm of the city itself – vibrant, dynamic, and unceasingly reinventing while honoring its roots. The El Cortez remains an enduring emblem of Las Vegas’ timeless appeal, a place where the echoes of the past merge seamlessly with the thrills of the present, inviting visitors to be a part of its ongoing legacy.

Author James Lopez