First Casino in Las Vegas

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The first and oldest casino in Las Vegas is the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino. It has a rich history that dates back to its founding in 1906.

The building is not only the oldest casino in Las Vegas but also the oldest hotel in Las Vegas.

Originally known as the Hotel Nevada, it was a small, 10-room establishment built by John F. Miller and was located on Fremont Street, which was the main thoroughfare of Las Vegas at the time.

John F. Miller was a prominent figure in the early development of Las Vegas. He was a businessman and entrepreneur who saw potential in the growing railroad town of Las Vegas in the early 20th century.

Miller realized that the city had the potential to become a hub for travelers and visitors, especially with the construction of the nearby Union Pacific Railroad line.

In 1905, Miller purchased the property on Fremont Street and opened the Hotel Nevada on January 13, 1906. The hotel was one of the first lodgings in the area and was intended to provide accommodations to the growing number of people traveling through or visiting Las Vegas.

At the time, Las Vegas was a small, dusty town in the desert, but Miller’s vision for the Hotel Nevada was part of the early foundation for what would later become the thriving entertainment and gambling destination that we know as Las Vegas today.

The hotel was considered a first class establishment at the time because it had electric lighting, ventilation and steam heat radiators. The first telephone in Las Vegas was even installed in the hotel in 1907.

In 1910, gambling was outlawed in Nevada and the hotel put away its roulette wheel and poker tables and continued to operate solely as a hotel.

In 1925, Freemont Street was paved and the hotel installed its first electric sign in 1927.

When gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931, the hotel reestablished its gaming tables and changed its name to Sal Sagev (which spells out Las Vegas backwards.)

A few years later, in 1933, Prohibition ended and the hotel and casino began legally serving alcohol again.

In 1955, the casino was leased out to a new management, who changed its name to the Golden Gate to reflect the era’s famous San Francisco-themed décor, but the hotel remained with its original owners and continued to operate under the name Sal Sagev.

In 1974, the owners of the casino bought the entire building and renamed it the Golden Gate Casino and Hotel.

In 2012, Golden Gate was renovated and expanded with luxury suites and a high limit pit. The Golden Gate became known for its distinctive neon sign, which has become an iconic symbol of vintage Las Vegas.

Despite its long history, the Golden Gate has managed to maintain a certain charm and nostalgia for visitors. While it may not be as large or glamorous as some of the more modern casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, it offers a glimpse into the city’s gambling past and continues to draw visitors who appreciate its historical significance.

The Golden Gate Casino has been a witness to the transformation of Las Vegas from a small desert town to the world-renowned gambling and entertainment destination it is today.

It’s a piece of living history and a reminder of the city’s humble beginnings in the world of gaming and entertainment.

If you want to learn more about the origins of casinos, check out this article on the history of casinos in America.

Sources:
Zook, Lynn M. and Allen Sandquist, Carey Burke. Las Vegas, 1905-1965. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
Horwath, Bryan. “Oldest Las Vegas casino, Golden Gate, celebrates 115 years on Fremont Street.” Las Vegas Sun, 15 Jan. 2021, lasvegassun.com/news/2021/jan/15/oldest-las-vegas-casino-golden-gate-celebrates-115/
“Our Story.” Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, goldengatecasino.com/our-story/

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