The first casinos in Las Vegas were built in the 1940s, and they were all on Fremont Street. These included the Apache Hotel, El Cortez, The Pioneer Club, and The Mint. At this time, there were also some other small gambling halls on Fremont Street that no longer exist.
These casinos would be closed by 3am at the latest. This is because of a law that was passed in 1941 that said any casino that had more than 15 slot machines had to close by 2am.
In 1955, two new casinos opened on The Strip: the Desert Inn and The Sahara. It was these two casinos which marked the beginning of what we now know today as "The Strip."
Fremont Street is the oldest gaming district in Las Vegas. It was the location of the first casinos in Las Vegas, and it is where some of the best casinos in Las Vegas are today.
What happened to Fremont Street?
The Strip eventually took over Fremont Street. The casinos in the 1940s on Fremont Street were all demolished when The Strip was built in the 1950s and 1960s. This means that all of the casinos on The Strip today are much newer than those on Fremont Street in the 1940s.
The casino strip
The casino strip is what we now know today as "The Strip." It was in 1955 when two new casinos opened, the Desert Inn and The Sahara. These were the first two casinos on The Strip. At this time, there were also some small gambling halls on Fremont Street that no longer exist that would be closed by 3am at the latest.
The Sahara and the Desert Inn
The Sahara and the Desert Inn were the first two casinos on The Strip. These casinos are now closed, but they modeled what The Strip would become.
The Sahara was opened in 1955 by Issac Lefkowitz and Maurice Friedman, who built it as a hotel with a casino downstairs. They thought that Las Vegas would not have enough gamblers to support another hotel on Fremont Street so they wanted to build one on The Strip. With their goal of attracting gamblers from Los Angeles and Southern California, they set up an "open-all-night" policy which extended gaming hours from 2am to 6am.
Issac lived at the Sahara until he died in 1957 at age 62. His son Harold then took over ownership of the casino until it closed in 2006.
The Desert Inn was also opened by Lefkowitz and Friedman in 1955. Unlike its sister property, however, it had a more luxurious and upscale style with a 140 room hotel tower that cost $4 million to build. It is said that this hotel tower was the inspiration for Caesars Palace's architecture when it was built in 1966 since both hotels had similar designs.
Today, you can find these two historic casinos at The Linq Promenade on The Strip which is where they were moved to after being shuttered for several years following their closure in 2006.
How did these two change Las Vegas?
The Sahara opened in 1955 and the Desert Inn opened in 1957. This was the beginning of what we now know as "The Strip." The Sahara was located on the south side of Las Vegas Boulevard, in between two of the newer casinos at that time: The El Rancho Vegas and The Last Frontier Hotel. The Desert Inn was located on the north side of Las Vegas Boulevard, right opposite Tropicana Avenue.
These two casinos were significant to Las Vegas because they were the first major hotel-casinos built outside of Fremont Street. These two hotels brought new life to what had recently been a small town with a few hotels on Fremont Street for gambling purposes only.
The introduction of these two casinos changed how people thought about Las Vegas and it became more than just a destination for gambling. It turned into something more like a vacation spot where people could go for entertainment and fun nightlife purposes as well.
The first casinos in Las Vegas were set up in Downtown Las Vegas, now called Fremont Street. They were small and just used for gambling, similar to the casinos in Reno and Atlantic City. However, it would be the opening of the Sahara Casino and the Desert Inn Casino that would change the landscape of Las Vegas. These two establishments opened up on the Strip and they are considered to be the first casinos as we know them today.
The Sahara is still standing and is now known as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The Desert Inn closed in 2000 and has been demolished, with what is now known as Fashion Show Mall built on the site.