History of Gaming in Nevada


By 1950, the state's population was just shy of 160,000 people. Casino and hotel construction flourished throughout the state, with more than 13 major casino openings.

Besides the tremendous growth of the industry, the 1950s introduced what would become the example for all other gaming jurisdictions to follow when regulating gaming. By 1952, commercial gambling had eclipsed mining and agriculture to become Nevada's largest revenue-producing industry. As Nevada's economy became more and more dependent upon gaming as an economic engine, the fear of federal gaming prohibition and negative public sentiment grew, prompting the Nevada State Legislature to create the Gaming Control Board in 1955. A division of the Nevada Tax Commission, the board's primary purpose was to oversee the licensing and operation of Nevada casinos, all the while eliminating the unsavory elements that threatened the industry's existing and future integrity. In 1959, the legislature passed the Gaming Control Act, which established the Nevada Gaming Commission. The commission acted upon the recommendations of the Gaming Control Board and was the final arbiter of all gaming licensing matters. In addition, the gaming regulators created the now famous Black Book. The Black Book is a listing of nefarious characters and cheaters who are not allowed in casinos, and a direct result of Nevada's commitment to further protect the industry's integrity.

Nevada's gaming regulatory system has been an integral part of Nevada's success and has become the standard upon which all other national and international gaming regulatory agencies are based.

  • Nevada's total population: 159,341
  • Desert Inn opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Congress passes 10 percent tax on sports bets
  • Horseshoe Club opens in Downtown Las Vegas
  • Sahara Hotel & Casino opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Sands Hotel & Casino opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Harveys Wagon Wheel Hotel is built at Lake Tahoe
  • Showboat Hotel & Casino opens on Boulder Highway, becoming the first true neighborhood casino
  • Gaming Control Board created within Nevada Tax Commission structure
  • Dunes opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Riviera opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Moulin Rouge opens in West Las Vegas
  • Nugget Casino opens in Sparks (Washoe); purchased by John Ascuaga in 1960
  • Nevada Legislature increases state gambling tax again, on sliding or "progressive scale," from 3 to 5.5 percent of gross winnings
  • Hacienda opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Fremont Hotel & Casino opens in Downtown Las Vegas
  • Tropicana opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • Mint Hotel & Casino opens in Downtown Las Vegas
  • Stardust Resort & Casino opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • The Nevada Gaming Commission is created by the Nevada State Legislature
  • Nevada's "Black Book" is approved to keep casinos "clean"