In Clark County, Nevada, a 4.2-mile stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard has been and still is home to some of the most famous and popular casino resorts in the world.
Some of the casinos on the road even pre-date the name of the Strip, which has been home to over 60 casino hotels and resorts throughout its 90-year history. And many of these establishments have hosted some of the biggest entertainers at their venues.
Throughout its existence, many hotels have been torn down to make room for newer, bigger, state-of-the-art resorts. But some have remained. Many of the older hotels have gone through massive renovations and additions and look significantly different than they did when they first opened. But they’re still there operating.
Here are four of the oldest casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
1 – The Flamingo Las Vegas
In 1945, notorious gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his partners wanted to get in on the booming gambling business that Las Vegas was experiencing. This desire led to him and his associates purchasing the El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas.
Siegel purchased the casino hotel with the intent of expanding it. Unfortunately, city officials wouldn’t issue the necessary permits due to Siegel’s criminal history and mob connections.
After hitting a proverbial brick wall, Siegel heard that the owner of The Hollywood Reporter, Billy Wilkerson, was building a casino resort outside the city limits and outside the reach of the Las Vegas city officials that were blocking Siegel’s El Cortez expansion.
Wilkerson had run into financial issues building the casino, so Siegel and his associates bought a two-thirds share of the project.
Siegel took over direct control of the construction, and the Flamingo opened on December 25th, 1946.
The initial opening was a flop, despite the array of stars who were present—Rose Marie, Jimmy Durante, Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Cesar Romero, Judy Garland, and Joan Crawford. The casino was also having issues with construction that were the result of Siegel’s pressure to open on the builder.
In January 1947, Siegel temporarily closed the Flamingo to correct the issues and reopened in March and renamed The Fabulous Flamingo, despite the hotel not being complete. By May, the Flamingo reported its first profit, $250,000 (nearly $3 million in 2019 dollars).
Siegel’s association with the Flamingo would be short-lived, as he was murdered in June. It was allegedly a mob hit for his mismanagement of casino funds, but this was never proven.
Over the years, ownership of the Flamingo has changed several times. The first sale was in 1960 to a group of Miami organized crime bosses that included Samuel Cohen, Morris Lansburgh, and Daniel Lifter. The next sale was to Kirk Kerkorian in 1967. Kerkorian then turned around and sold the Flamingo to the Hilton Corporation in 1972. Hilton renamed the property The Flamingo Hilton in 1974. In 2000, the Flamingo was renamed The Flamingo Las Vegas.
The Flamingo has gone under 11 major renovations. This includes four towers that were added onto the original structures. The last original structure was torn down in 1993.
Currently, the hotel has 3,626 rooms and has a 72,300 square-foot casino.
- Slots and Gaming Machines: 1,690
- Table Games: 130
- Poker Tables: 6
- Separate Poker Room: Yes
- Address: 3555 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Phone: (702) 733-3111
- Website: www.caesars.com/flamingo-las-vegas
2 – Tropicana Las Vegas
In 1955, ground was first broken on the Tropicana Las Vegas. The project experienced cost overruns and several delays and finally opened on April 4, 1957.
The property has gone through three major renovations in 1979, 1986, and 2011.
The biggest entertainment venues at the Tropicana Las Vegas is the Legends in Concert theater, which seats 1,100 people. It has featured residencies of stars such as Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton.
It currently features a show called Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show, which includes tributes to the late Prince as well as the bands featured in the movie Purple Rain, Vanity 6 and Morris Day and the Time.
In addition, it has a comedy club called the Laugh Factory that features nightly performances by legendary impressionist and comedian Rich Little.
The resort casino features nine restaurants, including one by celebrity chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible fame. Currently, the Flamingo features 1,467 rooms and over 50,000 square feet of casino floor space.
- Slots and Gaming Machines: 650
- Table Games: 15
- Poker Tables: None
- Separate Poker Room: No
- Address: 3801 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
- Phone: (702) 739-2222
- Website: www.troplv.com/
3 – The LINQ
The LINQ opened as the Flamingo Capri Motel in 1959. It was not owned by the same people who owned the Flamingo, but was built adjacent to the Flamingo and had an arranged with Flamingo management to have services provided to Flamingo Capri guests.
In 1971, the Flamingo Capri was sold and the next year, the new owner added a casino. By 1979, the property was acquired by Best Western and had done substantial renovations. Best Western renamed the Flamingo Capri as the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino on November 1, 1979.
In 2005, Harrah’s (renamed Caesar’s Entertainment in 2010) acquired the Imperial Palace and neighboring properties O’Sheas and the Flamingo.
In 2011, Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that it would build Project LINQ, an entertainment complex in place of Imperial Palace and O’Sheas Casino.
After a $223 million renovation of the property, the property was renamed again. The new name took effect on October 30, 2014, the Linq Hotel and Casino.
The hotel contains nearly 20 restaurants, featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s Fish and Chips restaurant. It also has a shopping promenade with over a dozen stores to choose from.
- Slots and Gaming Machines: 830
- Table Games: 55
- Poker Tables: None
- Separate Poker Room: No
- Address: 3535 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
- Phone: (800) 634-6441
- Website: www.caesars.com/linq
4 – Caesars Palace
Among the most famous casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip is Caesars Palace. The storied history of the casino includes a wealth of performers and unique events that no other venues in Las Vegas have provided.
One of the first major events that occurred at Caesars was the legendary Evel Knievel jump over the fountains at Caesars Palace. The event occurred on New Year’s Eve 1967. The jump, 141 feet, was the longest ever attempted at the time.
Knievel came up short on the jump and landed on the safety ramp, causing one of the most spectacular crashes in stunt bike history. Knievel suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist, and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in the hospital for over a month. He became the most famous stuntman in the world following the jump.
Many events took place there as well, including the Caesars Palace Grand Prix Formula One World Championships, the 1980 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, and the 1993 event WrestleMania IX.
Caesar’s boasts several celebrity chef restaurants in the form of Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen, Pronto by Giada, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar, Restaurant Guy Savoy, and even Nobu.
Caesar’s Palace has 3,976 rooms and nearly 125,000 square feet of casino floor space.
- Slots and Gaming Machines: 1,324
- Table Games: 169
- Poker Tables: 16
- Separate Poker Room: Yes
- Address: 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
- Phone: (866) 227-5938
- Website: www.caesars.com/caesars-palace
Las Vegas is steeped in history. As are the casino resorts that have been listed here. Many of the pop culture events that have happened over the last few decades have occurred in some of these venues. The Evel Knievel jump, boxing matches, concerts, wrestling matches, and even political events are all examples of the ways these casinos have shaped the American experience.
The Las Vegas Strip doesn’t exist in a bubble. It constantly evolves. Even the casino resorts listed here would be almost unrecognizable to someone who saw them in the 1960s. And the Strip will continue to evolve and change.
Someday, these properties will outlive their usefulness and need to be demolished and other structures will be built in their place. They may keep the names or they may change. But for now, they stand as a tribute to the many decades of gambling, entertainment, and excitement that millions have had the pleasure to experience.