The Flamingo is most famous for representing mobster Bugsy Siegel’s big entry into the casino business in Las Vegas. The Flamingo originally started with publisher William Wilkerson, who owned The Hollywood Reporter, buying 33 acres on Las Vegas boulevard. Wilkerson had opened several nightclubs on the Sunset Strip in Las Angeles and wanted to build a more upscale casino than the rather low quality ones that were in Las Vegas at the time.
This was to be a hotel casino resort on a scale much grander than Las Vegas had ever seen at the time, with a luxury hotel, a French style casino, a spa, a health club, a showroom, a restaurant, and even a golf course.
Construction costs for the casino were higher than expected, and Wilkerson ran out of money and was forced to take on a partner. He sold two thirds interest in the project to Siegel and his partners. This wasn’t Siegel’s first casino venture, he had already bought a casino in Las Vegas proper, but was looking for something outside the city limits where his reputation might not be looked upon so unfavorably.
So this wasn’t the first casino in the city or even the strip, Bugsy Siegel didn’t discover Las Vegas, among other myths surrounding the place, but he was the majority owner of it for a time. He wasn’t bumped off right after the opening either, they actually gave him a second chance to make the place work after the first opening flopped, but that didn’t work out too well for him.
It is true though that the Flamingo was named after Siegel’s girlfriend, which is the nick name he gave her. The property opened in 1946, then deemed the “west’s greatest resort hotel,” although with its 105 rooms it paled greatly in comparison to today’s casino resorts.
There were concerns about Siegel skimming money from the project, including some of the money earmarked for construction, and Siegel’s partners were among the biggest gangsters of the day, and they weren’t particularly fond of being cheated. Siegel ended up being shot to death in his Beverly Hills mansion a short time later.
The Flamingo is still alive and well all these years later, and is the oldest standing casino on the strip. There is a monument there remembering Bugsy Siegel.
The Flamingo was surely run first class though, this was the first Vegas casino to dress their staff in tuxedos, and they also attracted the biggest names in show business to their showroom in the early days, helping them gain not only guests but a lot of publicity as well.
The Flamingo Las Vegas has seen a lot of renovations over the years, and the original building is long gone, with four newer towers taking their place. The Flamingo has also changed hands several times over the years, currently owned by Caesar’s Entertainment, one of their many properties in the Las Vegas area and elsewhere.
The Features of the Flamingo Las Vegas
The theme of this casino resort is a South Florida one, and flamingos are of course featured here, both depictions and the real thing. They have a wildlife habitat in their courtyard featuring Chilean flamingos and other wildlife.
The hotel here is a good sized one indeed, with 3,626 rooms. The rates here are as reasonable as you will ever find, starting at $30 a night for a Fab room, and you get a pretty nice room for that little amount of money as well.
There are many other selections with increasing degrees of luxury and amenities, but all of them offer guests a fabulous deal for the money. The suites here start at $100 a night, and these are real suites. $125 a night gets you a 1200 square foot Luxury Suite for instance. If you’re looking for a room deal in Las Vegas, they have some real head turning ones here.
The Flamingo is famous for its shows, from all the way back to the 1940’s onward, and while the competition these days doesn’t allow for the biggest names to be brought in anymore, their entertainment lineup is still worth a look. Regular headliners these days include Donny and Marie Osmond and Olivia Newton John. It might have been a few decades since these acts were big but a lot of people love nostalgia and they still pack them in.
The Donny and Marie Showroom also features other live acts, both musical and comedy ones. There’s even a burlesque show, along with X-Burlesque University which teaches all you need to know about making it as a Las Vegas showgirl.
The restaurant selection is a good one, starting with the upscale Center Cut Steakhouse. There’s also a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for more casual dining. A buffet restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, the Beach Club Bar and Grill, a food court, and a specialty coffee shop.
The Beach Club also has a pool of course, as well as the Go Pool where you are served your favorite cocktails. There’s also shopping on site, a spa, several bars including Bugsy’s bar, a meeting center, a wedding chapel, and deals on golf.
The Casino at the Flamingo Las Vegas
The Flamingo features 77,000 square feet of gaming space in the main areas, as well as a separate 15,000 casino inside Margaritaville, featuring 220 slot machines and 22 gaming tables.
The main casino has 1600 more slot machines, including very good selection of video poker, blackjack, and keno. Penny players will particularly like the selection here, and they have progressive jackpot slots starting at 2 cents a play.
There’s lots of selection among the various types of slots as well, and they have plenty of ones that pay out even more bonus spins than is typical with Vegas slots.
Craps are particularly big here, and the Flamingo hosted the first craps table on the strip back in the day, so the game of craps has a rich history at this casino and a strong following as well.
They also have the other most popular casino games, including blackjack, roulette, mini baccarat, let it ride, pai gow poker, three card poker, and six card poker.
Speaking of poker, they have a separate poker room with 6 tables where you can play against your fellow guests at the hotel casino resort. They have as low stakes as you’re going to find, starting at $50 buy ins, right up to the higher stakes.
Their sports book may not be quite up to the latest technology like some sports books at casinos in Las Vegas, there’s no private screens at every seat for instance, but there are plenty of monitors in the place to catch the action on. There’s also a separate Keno lounge where you can watch the action unfold in person.
Overall, the Flamingo has a rich history and that’s definitely part of the appeal here, although people do come for the great room deals and there’s some good casino action here as well, so it’s a good pick overall.