Las Vegas is one of the world’s most loved and visited cities. The city is significantly associated with the unique gambling experience, fun-filled nightlife, and luxurious hotels. If you are a shopping enthusiast, explorative traveler, or food connoisseur, Las Vegas will give you a mind-blowing experience. Being a hub of many exciting and entertaining activities and places, the city has many interesting facts. In this detailed guide about Las Vegas, we cover exciting facts unknown to many people, even residents of Las Vegas. The facts range from general knowledge and historical facts to tourism, business, and gambling.
1. The name of the city
Rafael Rivera named the city in 1829. Rivera was a member of a trading party that stopped at the Old Spanish Trail on transit to Los Angeles from New Mexico. Las Vegas is a Spanish name that means “The Meadows.” Even though Las Vegas is known for being in a dry region, in 1829, the city’s valley had several artesian wells. Expansive green areas surrounded the artesian wells and watered the Las Vegas Wash. With time the Las Vegas valley became a dry land supporting only the hardiest vegetation and animals after the artesian wells dried up.
2. Location of the Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is one of the iconic landmarks of Sin City. The strip features impressive concertation of luxurious casinos, residential high-rises, restaurants, entertainment spots, and resort hotels. It starts from Las Vegas Boulevard South to Sahara Avenue (North End). Shockingly the Strip technically falls outside the Las Vegas city limits and is located in an unincorporated part of Paradise, Nevada.
This little tidbit won’t affect you at all, but it’s still cool to know!
3. Lighting the Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas is considered the brightest spot on the planet with its cacophony of colorful neon lights. Research carried out by Smart Lighting Industries revealed that the Las Vegas Strip has more than 12,000,000 lights. The average annual cost of having such a dazzling nightstand display is $485,587,824.
4. Weddings in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the top destinations for couples who want to get married fast. In a day, the city witnesses a minimum of 200 weddings. Couples can get married and have their marriage license on the same day, with zero waiting period. The city offers some of the best and most interesting wedding spots for couples ranging from unique chapels to luxurious hotels.
5. The Famous Bellagio Fountain show
The Bellagio Fountain show is one of the landmarks globally identified with the city of Las Vegas. The attraction is accessible to everyone and is located at the Bellagio Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. An interesting fact about the famous Bellagio Fountain show is that it has a minimum of 12,000 fountains on the 8.5-acre artificial lake. It uses 4,792 lights and 1,214 water nozzles and can shoot water as high as 460ft.
6. The First Structure
The oldest building in Las Vegas is the Las Vegas Old Mormon Fort. It marks the beginning of the city. It was the city’s first structure and was constructed by the Mormon missionaries, who were non-native settlers. The 32 Mormon missionaries started constructing the 150-foot square fort in September 1855 and were led by William Bringhurst. Apart from building the fort, which enclosed eight two-story houses, the missionaries practiced farming inside the fort and tried to convert the natives. Tourists and residents can visit the Las Vegas Old Mormon Fort at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park.
7. The oldest hotel and casino
Las Vegas prides itself on its elegant and luxurious collection of high-end casinos and hotels. The first resort built in the city was the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. It was initially named Hotel Nevada and was opened on January 13, 1906. The hotel has been renamed several times; Sal Sagev (1931), Golden Gate (1955), and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino (1974). Between the years 1959 to 2017, the hotel enjoyed global recognition for its affordable shrimp cocktails. It was the first hotel in 1959 to have a 50-cent Las Vegas shrimp cocktail.
8. The First Telephone in Las Vegas
The Golden Gate seems to have played several roles in the development of Las Vegas. It was the location of the first telephone in the city, which was installed in 1907 in Charles “Pop” Squires’ office. Squires is often called the “Father of Las Vegas.” The 1907 hand-crank phone was wall-mounted with a dial number “1” and could supply effective communication to the residents who wanted to use it. Las Vegas has a plaque marking its location.
9. Las Vegas Old West Town of St. Thomas
The Old West Town of St Thomas in Las Vegas was a thriving Mormon settlement. The ghost town lies buried at the bottom of Lake Mead. The remnants of the town have started being visible due to the continuous lowering of the lake’s water elves. Old West Town was a thriving stop point for travelers between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. In 1930 residents were forced to vacate the town when Lake Mead’s water levels started rising. It’s located close to the flowing point of the Muddy River into the Colorado River.
10. The Location of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel’s car
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was a 41-year-old mobster from Brooklyn. Benjamin was gruesomely killed in his Beverly Hills home on June 20, 1947. Siegel opened his glitzy Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas on December 26, 1946. After his murder, the mobster’s car was permanently buried under the hotel. Despite having a very unsuccessful grand opening and its owner being killed six months, the hotel is still thriving in the competitive Vegas entertainment scene. It has undergone different ownership and naming episodes, but Siegel’s car remains buried underneath the hotel. The hotel is currently named The Flamingo Las Vegas.
11. Number of tourists visiting Las Vegas
Las Vegas receives more than 30 million tourists each year. In 2019 the city received 42.05 million tourists. However, the number drastically dropped in 2020 to 19.03 million due to the Covid 19 pandemic. In 2021 the city welcomed 32.23 million tourists. The average age of guests visiting Las Vegas in 2019 was 46.2 years, which dropped to 43.2 years in 2020. In 2021, 56% of the tourists were whites, 17% African American, and 19% Hispanic or Latino. Las Vegas falls in the category of the ten most visited cities in the US. 48% of visitors come to the city for vacation, 11% to attend conventions, and 5% to gamble.
12. A hotelier hub
Las Vegas is home to over half of the top 20 world’s largest hotels. These include:
- The Venetian and the Palazzo
- MGM Grand Las Vegas + the Signature
- Wynn Las Vegas + Encore Las Vegas
- Mandalay Bay + Delano + Four Seasons
- Luxor Las Vegas
- Excalibur Hotel and Casino
- Caesars Palace
- Bellagio Las Vegas
- Circus Circus Las Vegas
- Flamingo Las Vegas
The hotels can accommodate more than 3500 guests. Las Vegas has a minimum number of 150,259 hotel rooms.
13. The Harry Reid International Airport
The Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarren) is the seventh busiest international airport in North America. The airport connects to 12 different countries and serves 402 local and international flight routes. In July 2022, the airport had 40,520 flights, with 61 airlines operating in the airport.
14. Las Vegas Conventions
The Las Vegas Convention center is one of the world’s largest convention and meeting centers. It’s operated and owned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The center was opened in April 1959; and has been expanded several times in 1971, 1990, 1998, 2002, and 2021. The magnificent center has 2.5 million square feet of exhibition space and 225 meeting rooms (with a seating capacity of 20 to 200).
In fact, there are many other convention centers available on the Strip as well.
15. Home to famous landmarks around the world
There are different famous landmarks from around the globe in Las Vegas. They include:
- Eiffel Tower- Paris Las Vegas (Paris)
- Luxor Sphinx – Luxor Las Vegas (Egypt)
- The Grand Canal Shoppes – The Venetian and the Palazzo (Venice)
- Arc De Triomphe- Paris Las Vegas (Paris)
- San Marco Campanile – The Venetian and the Palazzo (Venice)
- Rialto Bridge – The Venetian and the Palazzo (Venice)
- The Colosseum – Caesars Palace (Rome)
- Pantheon Ceiling – Forum Shops (Rome)
- The Statue of Liberty-New York Las Vegas (New York)
- Brooklyn Bridge -New York Las Vegas (New York)
- Statue of David -Caesars Palace (Florence)
- Trevi Fountain -Forum Shops (Rome)
- An Egyptian Pyramid -Luxor Las Vegas (Egypt)
- New York City Skyline -New York Las Vegas (New York)
Business & Gambling Facts
16. The five Biggest Gambling Wins in Las Vegas
Las Vegas has a unique and deep gambling culture. Enthusiasts have access to various casino games ranging from slot machines, tables, card games, and poker to even bingo. Over the years, gambling fanatics have managed to get some outrageous wins. Below are the biggest wins in the gambling history of Las Vegas:
- In 2003, a lucky player won $39.7 Million when playing the Megabucks slot machine at the Excalibur Casino. The player had wagered $100 and got the jackpot win.
- Cynthia Jay Brennan won a $35 million jackpot in 2000 when gambling at the Desert Inn.
- In 1998, a retiree won $27.6 Million at the Palace Station Casino. She was playing the Megabucks machine.
- Johanna Heundl spent $170 playing the Megabucks machine at Bally’s. The 74-year-old gambler won a $22.6 Million jackpot in May 2002.
- In 1999, a business consultant won $21.3 Million – Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The 49-year-old anonymous player wagered only $10 when playing the Megabucks machine.
17. Number of Casinos in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip has 30 brick-and-mortar casinos, with the city having more than 150 legally operating casinos. However, the number goes way higher if you decide to count gambling halls.
Gambling and gaming account for 43% of casino revenue. 15% of tourists visit primarily to enjoy the Vegas gambling experience. But more than 71% of visitors in the city end up gambling during their stay. The top five popular casinos in Las Vegas are:
- MGM Grand Resort and Casino
- Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
- Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino.
- The Venetian & the Palazzo
18. The Biggest Wagers in Las Vegas Gambling History
William Lee Bergstrom is famous for making the largest bet in the history of gambling. The gambler placed a $777,000 bet at the Binion Horseshoe Casino in 1980. The value of the bet is estimated to be higher than $2.3 million today. Apart from being the biggest wager, Bergstrom is known for topping the list of the biggest losers. He ended his gambling career after he lost $1,000,000.
19. No Longer the Gambling Capital of the World
In 1931, Nevada legalized gambling. Las Vegas soon became a popular destination for gambling enthusiasts, and in less than a decade, the city was declared the world’s gambling capital. Currently, the city is home to more than 250 gambling establishments. However, the title of the world’s gambling capital no longer belongs to Las Vegas. Instead, it goes to Macau in China. Macau has immense popularity in Asia.