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How Las Vegas Became a Gambling Mecca


Las Vegas was a small railroad town when Nevada formally established it in 1905. Five years after its founding, the U.S. census recorded only 800 residents. Yet by the 1950s, it was known as a gambling tourist haven, where visitors could see a show with celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. in between trips to the baccarat tables.

Although Nevada’s legalization of gambling in 1931 opened the doors for this transformation, that alone doesn’t tell the whole story of how Las Vegas became the gambling mecca over its one-time rival, Reno. The story also includes an influx of workers to federal projects in Nevada, a crackdown on illegal gambling in Los Angeles and the mob’s migration to Vegas.





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