The Las Vegas Strip, famous for its bright lights, luxury resorts and modern buildings, has set the tone for the US casino experience since the 1930s but these came almost three centuries after the world’s first casino, the Casinó di Venezia, which opened in Venice, Italy in 1638. In the 1950s, the Casinò di Venezia relocated to the Grand Canal, where it remains today, offering traditional card games, roulette, and slot machines.
Las Vegas also offers a range of traditional and modern casino games whilst still retaining the romance of vintage Vegas. Many Las Vegas casinos blend vintage charm and kitsch from the time of Elvis and Sinatra with modern facilities, a winning combination that attracts tourists who can also enjoy a vast array of online casino games to be played anytime, anywhere through sites such as wombat casino. Here are some of the best retro casinos in Vegas:
Although founded in 1905, the city did not really take off until the 1930s. One of the earliest establishments was the Hotel Nevada which opened at 1 Fremont Street in 1906, changing hands until it became Golden Gate in 1955. Whilst it is now renovated to high standards, you can still drink cocktails from coffee cups at the bar, in a tradition dating back to the days of prohibition. The Golden Gate casino was popular with Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin and you can also see the original one-armed bandits in the lobby.
D Las Vegas
D Las Vegas may no longer have neon, having renovated with LED, but inside is the vintage look of the 1980s. Here, you can imagine famous casino movies playing out, such as “21” playing out, a fact-based story about a 21-year-old MIT student named Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) who travels to Vegas with a group of the brightest students to win big at the blackjack tables. The D’s Vintage Casino, which can be found on the second floor, is usually packed with people playing the retro coin-operated slot machines, including the popular Sigma Derby mechanical horse racing game from 1985.
Binion’s Gambling Hall
Opened in 1951 as the Horseshoe, Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel was founded in 1970 and was where the World Series of Poker was founded and although it has not been played there for several years, the casino provides a taste of what Vegas used to be, being one of the few casinos that will cover a big bet, taking a USD66,200 bet on a single roulette wheel spin. The house lost.
Opened in 1941, El Cortez is vintage Las Vegas at its best, being the longest continuously-running casino in Las Vegas. The original façade has allowed El Cortez to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Once owned by mobster Bugsy Siegel, the gangster style has been retained and it is possible to play slot machines with real quarters even though renovations have brought the hotel up to date.
Opened on the Strip in 1966, Caesars Palace has since expanded and been rebuilt several times. But inside the main casino, there is still a feel of what it must have been like around 50 years ago, something that has been exploited by TV shows like Friends and movies like Rain man, which featured the venue. The Palace has inspired the design and operation of later casinos, with famous entertainment from musicians like Diana Ross as well as heavyweight boxing matches featuring Muhammad Ali.
Billed as the most luxurious hotel in the world when it first opened in 1946, The Flamingo has a black and candy-pink retro charm and a fascinating history, including the fact that it closed two weeks later after the casino lost USD300,000. During the 1940s and ’50s, the Flamingo sold performances by some of the greatest names of the time, including Louis Armstrong, the Three Stooges, and Tony Martin. With a 15,000-square-foot casino, Flamingo is now owned by Caesars Entertainment and remains an iconic gambling and tourist destination on the Las Vegas strip.
If you want retro-Vegas with the luxury of modern Vegas, look no further than the Golden Nugget. Another casino opened in 1946, this glamorous casino was the first casino dedicated to glamour, luxury, and high-stakes betting and gaming. It was also the first to have air-conditioning installed. This classic Vegas venue has a three-storey shark tank with a water slide running right through it, whilst the casino is said to be home to the world’s largest single golden nugget in the world, weighing in at just under 28 kilograms.