Nevada was once a dusty state with lots of land and not much promise, but all that started to change during the first half of the 20th century. The momentum increased even more following World War II, and it wasn’t long before Las Vegas was positioned as the leading destination for gamblers on the planet. While it’s global appeal may have slipped somewhat with the rise of Macau, it remains the premier destination for players in the United States.
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Las Vegas Casinos
The heart of Sin City is Las Vegas Boulevard, which is commonly known as the Vegas Strip. This is where some of the most famous casinos in the world are located, and an obscene amount of money moves in and out of these properties on a daily basis.
If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, you owe it to yourself to check out this neon shrine to casino games.
Here are some of the notable casinos you can find on the Vegas Strip:
- Circus Circus
- MGM Grand
- Caesars Palace
- Mandalay Bay
- Wynn Las Vegas
While the Strip gets most of the attention, some of the more out-of-the-way casinos actually offer better payout percentages on slots and more liberal rules on table games like blackjack. While the tourists flock to Las Vegas Boulevard, the pros often venture away from all the glitz.
If you’re looking for better odds, here are some more isolated establishments to try:
- Eastside Cannery Casino & Hotel
- Red Rock Casino Resort
- Ellis Island
- Silverton Hotel & Casino
- Green Valley Ranch
- The Orleans
- Poker Palace
- Joker’s Wild
Nevada Casinos outside Las Vegas
While Las Vegas is the undisputed capital of gambling in the state, there are plenty of other towns and cities with casinos. Even the airport has slot machines, although they have perhaps the worst payout percentage of any machines in the state.
If you decide to venture outside of Vegas, here are some towns and cities to look for on the map:
- Carson City
- Crystal Bay
Tribal Gaming in Nevada
Commercial casinos have a stranglehold on the industry within Nevada, but that hasn’t stopped a few Indian tribes from getting in on the action. These facilities are located on tribal lands and are the result of approval from the U.S. government and a compact with the state.
If you want to experience an Indian casino while you’re in Nevada, here are your current options:
Pari Mutuel Betting in Nevada
Live greyhound racing doesn’t exist in the state of Nevada, but patient fans can view quarter horse and thoroughbred racing at various times of the year. It’s not a huge industry within the state, but it does exist. The following are the venues most associated with the “sport of kings”:
- Winnemucca Convention and Visitors Authority – In addition to offering gaming facilities, the Nevada town of Winnemucca holds horse and mule races as part of the Humboldt County Fair.
- Elko County Fair – In operation for over 95 years, this fair in Elko, Nevada offers a number of diversions in August and September including thoroughbred racing.
- White Pine Horse Races – These races in Ely, Nevada first took place in 1934, and they’ve been going strong ever since. While the events only take place a few days a year, fans can see both quarter horse and thoroughbred racing.
If you’d rather sit in an air-conditioned room and watch horseracing on a massive high-definition television, then you may want to check out the wide array of off-track betting facilities in Nevada. All of the OTB locations are in casinos, and most feature state-of-the-art sound and images. At last count, there were just over 70 such venues in Nevada.
The Lottery in Nevada
When the state constitution of Nevada was created in 1864, most forms of gambling were made illegal. That all changed in 1931 when the policy was reversed and various types of gambling were allowed. One exception, however, was the lottery.
Despite the wide range of casino games being allowed, the state lottery has never been permitted in Nevada. Why? Well, the answer should be obvious. The casinos have a tremendous amount of pull within the state, and they view any sort of lottery as direct competition. That’s why lottery proposals have been shot down dozens of times over the decades, despite the additional money that it would bring to the state.
In a way, however, the state does have a lottery in the form of the Megabucks slot machines. It’s a progressive network that stretches across various Nevada casinos, and a small portion of each dollar wagered goes into the jackpot with a $10 million minimum. In fact, the largest slot jackpot ever won in the state came from one of these machines, a $39.7 million payday in 2003.
Owning a Slot Machine in Nevada
Nevada has no restrictions on slot machine ownership, which means your collection can consist of antique one-armed bandits or games right off the casino floor. The only limitation is that such devices are for personal use only, so keep this in mind before you start inviting the neighbors over to turn a profit.
Sports Betting in Nevada
Nevada is one of the few U.S. states that can legally offer sports betting, and they’re the only one that pursues this right with such relish. Every major casino in Las Vegas features a sportsbook, and you can also get online and place bets once you’re within the boundaries of the state. Massive banks of high-definition screens offer live broadcasts of sporting events around the globe, and odds are constantly being tabulated and updated.
Nevada may not offer a state lottery or greyhound racing, but otherwise, it’s a paradise for gamblers. Las Vegas is especially notable, as the city seems to have something going on every minute of the day. There’s also a mystique that’s become associated with Vegas, as people go there believing that anything is possible (sometimes getting themselves in trouble in the process). If Macau is too far away for your budget, this is definitely a must-see locale.