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What does the history of Las Vegas and the history of Atlantic City share in common? If you visited Atlantic City in the 1880s, you'd see nothing except a few hotels and a boardwalk. In 1905, Las Vegas was nothing more than a dustbowl town in the middle of the Great Basin desert. From these humble origins, two of the world's most spectacular gambling cities emerged. But it hasn't been all glitz and glamour—each city has had its share of hard times too. The coronavirus pandemic is the latest crisis to affect the gambling industry, but it's far from the first. Do we have reason to believe that Las Vegas and Atlantic City will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever? Absolutely! In this post, we'll take a look at some challenges each city has faced (and successfully overcome). Read on to learn more! The History of Las Vegas: Overcoming the Worst The early days of Vegas were the stuff of legend—glittering lights, dazzling celebrities, and Rat Pack singers in every lounge. More recently, Las Vegas has been the center of some interesting scandals and secrets. It's also been the center of a few newsworthy tragedies, which we'll outline here. Fire at the MGM Grand (1980) Did you know that one of the worst fires in US history happened right on the Las Vegas Strip? It happened on November 21, 1980, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Over 5,000 guests were asleep in their rooms when a fire broke out in one of the resort's restaurants around 7 am. With no sprinklers installed in that part of the hotel, the fire quickly spread. When all was said and done, 85 people were killed and another 650 were injured. To this day, the crisis remains one of the worst disasters in Nevada history and the third-worst fire in US history. Bonus fact: The rebuilt MGM Grand was designed with a state-of-the-art sprinkler system to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. The Economic Crisis (2008) In the years before the housing crisis struck, Las Vegas was experiencing one of the biggest booms in its (already impressive) history. With housing prices skyrocketing as much as 80%, nonstop building projects went on for over 5 years. Then the bubble burst, taking with it the dreams of many Las Vegas residents. Almost overnight, home prices in Las Vegas plummeted by 60%. Nevada hit #1 on foreclosure and unemployment lists and stayed there for years. To add insult to injury, the tourism industry also took a major hit. No one else had disposable income, either, which meant far fewer visitors to the resorts and casinos. Did Las Vegas rally? You bet. Housing prices are rising at one of the fastest rates anywhere in the US, at an average of 12% per year. Unemployment rates also dropped while the hotels and casinos filled up again. Mass Shooting at Mandalay Bay (2017) You undoubtedly remember this news headline from 2017—the deadliest mass shooting in US history. On the night of October 1, a lone gunman opened fire into a crowded concert from his room at Mandalay Bay. In a matter of minutes, 58 people were killed and another 850 were injured. The shooter, who worked alone and did not belong to any known terrorist organizations, appeared to have no motive for his actions. He took his own life before police found him in his hotel room. The company that owns Mandalay Bay agreed to pay up to $800 million in damages to the victims and their families. The resort, which is one of the largest convention properties in the world, is already back up to 90% of its pre-shooting revenue. The History of Atlantic City: Weathering the Storms Atlantic City may not have as many headlines as its Nevada counterpart, but it's no stranger to hard times either. Here's a quick rundown of some of the challenges this New Jersey resort town has faced. Hurricanes No less than 12 hurricanes and tropical storms have made landfall in New Jersey, directly impacting Atlantic City. The unnamed hurricane of 1889 destroyed the famous boardwalk and left the city under 6 feet of water. While World War II raged, the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 battered the Jersey shore with 30-foot waves. More recently, 2012's superstorm Sandy (a hybrid hurricane and Nor'easter) decimated thousands of homes in and around Atlantic City. But as with other storms from the past, Atlantic City was quick to repair and rebuild. The Mafia & Disorganized Crime Most of what we know about organized crime in America has some sort of connection to Atlantic City. Names like Al Capone, Nucky Johnson, and Nicky Scarfo are synonymous with the scandals that built the town's casino empire. Atlantic City was strong enough to survive the Prohibition era, the Great Depression, and decades of organized crime scandals. What has been the result? Atlantic City's nine casinos opened 2020 with a 23% increase over 2019 earnings. We may see those figures dip during the coronavirus outbreak, but rest assured that Atlantic City will bounce back like it always does. The Future of Las Vegas & Atlantic City So, what did you learn from this brief history of Las Vegas and Atlantic City? The takeaway is that these casino towns are no strangers to hardship and adversity. From mafia dealings gone wrong to economic booms and busts, these cities have proved they can weather any storm. What about the world's current crisis, the coronavirus pandemic? Will it be the breaking point for the gambling industry? If history is any indication, we can confidently answer "NO!" The residents of Las Vegas and Atlantic are sure to rally and their great cities will thrive again, just as they've always done in the past.
When you think about large casinos, your attention may immediately focus on some of the more popular casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. While these cities are known for their gaming action, the reality is that most of their gaming resorts pale in comparison to the size and grandeur of the top venues around the world. Whether you are new to gambling or you are a high roller, these are the largest and most magnificent venues in the world, and they deserve your attention for your next big trip. Casino Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal (Image credit: casino-lisboa.pt) 1. Casino Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal If you are looking for serious gaming action in Europe, Casino Lisboa is the place to go. The gaming space in this enormous resort covers 165,000 square feet across two floors. It includes 26 table games and 1,000 slot machines. When you need a break from gaming, you can take advantage of the many other amenities and attractions on-site. For example, you can catch a live performance in a large auditorium that boasts a triple-ring rotating stage. This venue also has three impressive restaurants and a contemporary art gallery. MGM Grand, Las Vegas (Image credit: mgmresorts.com) 2. MGM Grand in Las Vegas MGM Grand is the largest gaming resort in Las Vegas and the only one that is large enough to make this list. If you visit MGM Grand to enjoy its gaming action, you will have more than 170,000 square feet of space to explore. This area boasts 200 table games, 3,000 slot machines and a dedicated poker room for non-smokers. As a travel destination in its own right, it is also home to two theaters that host elite performers regularly, three hotels along with elite villas, a nightclub, a spa, a huge pool, a sports arena, 15 restaurants and more than two dozen boutiques and shops. The Sands, Macao (Image credit: sandscasino.com) 3. The Sands in Macau The Sands is only one of five huge gaming venues in this city. Its gaming space covers 229,000 square feet, and it holds more than 1,000 slot machines and 200 gaming tables. It is notably known for its towering ceilings, which create a grand ambiance. Adding to the fun, this venue also is home to a theater, a health spa and nine restaurants. Rio Casino Resort, South Africa (Image credit: riocasino.co.za) 4. Rio Casino Resort in Klerksdrop, South Africa At the Rio Casino Resort, you can appreciate a jovial, carnival-inspired ambiance as you explore more its 266,330 square feet of games. It hosts poker tournaments regularly, and it gives you 24-hour access to its 274 slot machines and 12 table games. This venue offers something for all of its guests to enjoy with amenities like a bar, two unique restaurants, an arcade for the kids, a luxurious hotel and a private salon dedicated exclusively to high rollers. Ponte 16, Macau (Image credit: ponte16.com.mo) 5. Ponte 16 This is the second Macanese venue to make the list, and its gaming space covers 270,000 square feet. It boasts a waterfront location in the Inner Harbor, two VIP rooms, 307 slot machines and 109 tables. Its many games include fan tan, face-up blackjack, 3-card Baccarat and American roulette. During your stay, you can feel pampered at a French-themed luxury hotel. You can also enjoy a fitness center, a spa, a pool area, a gallery featuring live performances, a foot massage station, a children’s play area and numerous bars and restaurants. Wynn Macau (Image credit: wynnmacau.com) 6. Wynn Macau This Wynn-brand casino is located relatively close to Ponte 15, and it is slightly larger. Across its 273,000 square feet, you will find slots, table games and other gambling hot spots. In addition, the Wynn is home to a pool, an art gallery, a spa, more than two dozen shops, four elite restaurants and stunning visual arts shows that combine music, fire and other elements. Foxwoods, Connecticut (Image credit: foxwoods.com) 7. Foxwoods in Ledyard, Connecticut This is the second of three venues in the United States to make the list, and it is owned and managed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The venue is broken into six unique casinos, and they collectively cover more than 340,000 square feet. The gaming centers have 3,400 slot machines and more than 250 tables for a wide range of games across the six venues. In addition, you can take advantage of 55 restaurants and bars, a spa, a shopping center, zip-lining, bowling and more. City of Dreams, China (Image credit: cityofdreamsmacau.com) 8. City of Dreams in China The next venue on the list is considerably larger than Foxwoods. City of Dreams sits in Macau, and its gaming space encompasses 420,000 square feet. Its spacey, futuristic vibe is only one of its many qualities that set it apart from others. It is home to several VIP lounges with unique themes, more than 1,500 slot machines, 450 gaming tables and 30 bars and restaurants. It also has more than 175,000 square feet of boutiques and shops, four hotels, a nightclub, four spas, a water theater, an art exhibition space and more. Venetian, China (Image credit: venetianmacao.com) 9. Venetian in China The Venetian is the largest gambling venue in China and throughout Asia. Out of more than 10 million square feet of total space, approximately 530,000 square feet is dedicated to gaming activities. There are four game spaces with exciting, individualized themes, and these collectively hold 800 gaming tables and more than 6,000 slot machines. The venue also includes a 39-story hotel, numerous retail and dining areas, a huge special events center and a beautiful Venice-inspired decorative scheme. WinStar World Casino, Oklahoma (Image credit: winstar.com) 10. WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma Across Europe, Asia and beyond, all casino venues pale in comparison to the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. It is owned by the Chicksaw Nation. This venue’s gaming space covers 600,000 square feet, and it boasts an additional 600,000 square feet that has a wide range of additional amenities and attractions for every high roller to enjoy. At the WinStar World Casino, you will find an 800-seat bingo hall, 100 table games, more than 7,000 slots and a poker room dedicated to non-smokers. Additional hot spots at this venue include two event centers that offer more than 11,000 seats collectively, a golf course, a spa, a pool with a poolside bar, a sports lounge, a nightclub and 17 restaurants.