Archive for April, 2013

Gambling and Bombs, a History of Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada, is as synonymous with gambling as the casinos that populate its neon streets; you would be hard-pushed to find a gaming fan in the Betfair forums who does not view the city as an almost mythical place, far from the maddening grind of offices, traffic jams, and tax returns.

Quite fittingly, Las Vegas has an improbable history. Situated in a desert – the Mojave – surrounded by mountains, and with water a scarce resource, Sin City has defied seemingly nature in its determination to become the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’. Today, the resort is an iconic piece of pop culture, featuring in films, music, and video games.

However, the city has humble beginnings; starting out as a Mormon fort and pioneer trail, Las Vegas was not recognisable as a settlement until the turn of the 20th century, when it briefly operated as a railroad town with interests in mining. Vegas’ famous casinos, its bright blinking lights, are a relatively recent addition to the city.

According to the Betfair website, the first Nevada gaming licence was granted to the Northern Club in 1931. The casino, now known as La Bayou, had previously been operating illegally. The iconic Binion’s Horseshoe, which hosted the first World Series of Poker tournament, opened shortly after, boasting velvet wallpaper and carpets, something of a novelty at the time.

Las Vegas’ gambling halls were a secondary attraction in the 1950s, as testing of nuclear weapons in the Nevada desert became something of a regular pastime for the United States military. An estimated 100 bombs were detonated at the Nevada Test Site; the mushroom clouds were visible from the city, becoming a hit with tourists.

While atomic tourism has obviously tailed off in recent years, – tests do still occur, however, with the most recent experiment in 2012 – Las Vegas continues its love affair with the eccentric and dangerous, a trait that ensures its popularity with gamblers, retiring couples, and tourists will endure.

Of course, not everybody can afford to make the trip to Las Vegas. Fans can satiate their appetite for poker, blackjack, and horse racing betting on the Betfair website.


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