For most, a trip to Las Vegas requires a stay on the Strip to get the full Sin City experience. While staying on Las Vegas Boulevard is a blast, visitors can have a great time off the Strip as well. Check out these two alternative casinos if you’re looking to hit the tables somewhere off the beaten path.
You know the locals aren’t hanging around the Cosmopolitan in their free time. When residents want to hit the table, they’re going off the Strip. In addition to the Fremont Street Experience, where many of the classic Vegas casinos like Four Queens, Golden Nugget and El Cortez are located, check out the scene at Binion’s.
This downtown casino is named after Benny Binion, a former mob boss turned gambling icon who was originally a partner of Las Vegas Club, before leaving due to disagreements over table limits. He bought the Eldorado Club and Apache Hotel and re-opened them as Binion’s Horseshoe in 1951, the first casino to have carpeted floors and eliminate table limits, much to the pleasure of the gambling community. Binon wanted to create a more egalitarian gambling experience, eschewing private pits for highrollers and generously handing out comps to small-time gamblers. He later went on to create the World Series of Poker, when in 1970 he invited seven of the best poker players to his casino for a single tournament.
The pink neon of The Flamingo is one of Las Vegas’ most iconic sights. In 1946, it was the third casino to open on the Strip, and is currently the oldest one still in operation there. The 40-acre site originally belonged to C.P. Squires, a newspaper editor who was one of the buyers in the original Las Vegas land auction of 1905. Squires purchased the land for $8.75 an acre before it was sold to Margaret Folsom and then Billy Wilkerson, owner of the Hollywood Reporter and a few Los Angeles nightclubs.
Though it’s not as luxurious as the Strip’s more modern establishments, Wilkerson aimed to create an upscale alternative to the saw-dusted floors of Fremont Street’s casinos. Due to the costs of WWII, Wilkerson was forced to find new investors in the project. The opportunity caught the eye of Bugsy Siegel, a mobster who had trouble trying to expand El Cortez due to his criminal background. To get around city officials, he partnered with Wilkerson on The Flamingo, which was located just outside the city limits. It is rumored Siegel named the casino after the long legs of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill. Mobster turned partner Lucky Luciano wrote in his memoir that Siegel was inspired by the lucky flamingos at Hialeah Park Race Track, though they can’t have been too lucky because he was later murdered by their other mobster turned partner, Meyer Lansky, due to difficulties in turning a profit.
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