While many states offer gambling, Nevada has a history like none other. The roots of modern-day gaming in the United States can be traced to the Silver State. Gambling halls started as somewhat seedy, even raunchy, dusty outposts in the desert that were frequented by cowboys, miners and those looking to make a quick buck. Mark Twain in his 1872 book Roughing It said, “In Nevada, for a time, the lawyer, the editor, the banker, the chief desperado, the chief gambler, and the saloon keeper, occupied the same level in society, and it was the highest.” The legality of gambling changed over the course of the years, but has been fully sanctioned by state lawmakers since 1931. While there are plenty of small, neighborhood Nevada casinos that attract the hometown crowd, they are no longer the dark backroom halls one would be embarrassed to enter. Today, the larger casinos in the Reno, Carson City and Lake Tahoe areas cater to diverse crowds looking to have fun at the gaming tables and slot machines, as well as be enthralled by entertainers and dine on food worthy to be posted on social media. Showrooms used to boast of headliners like Frank Sinatra (he once owned the Cal Neva in Crystal Bay) and the rest of the Rat Pack, as well as Elvis Presley (whose suite is available to rent in Stateline at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino), the Temptations and Liza Minnelli. Today the music scene ranges from well-known musicians who are in their prime to those who hit the nostalgia chord to those who are starting their careers. One of the biggest changes through the years is the selection of dining options. Nevada casinos once boasted of having the best buffet in town, while now they cater to foodies. That’s not to say prime rib and lobster specials don’t exist, they do. But so do restaurants like Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and Charlie Palmer Steak.
Reno continues to have a reason to be prideful of being called the Biggest Little City. While it has a population of about a quarter million people, it has the offerings of a big city while still feeling like a small town. No longer is it saddled with the designation of being the divorce capital of the world — a moniker it was given because of the ability to get a quickie divorce. Today it is a destination not only for those who want to gamble, but for those who enjoy the outdoors. Reno casinos are havens where serious and not-so serious gamblers can feel comfortable. High-end poker and baccarat rooms are available, as are penny slot machines. Players clubs help build loyalty, offering a slew of rewards. Lodging opportunities are as diverse as the gaming facilities—from RV parks to four-star resorts. The Reno casinos dining choices also run the gamut from fast-food to restaurants that frown on shorts and T-shirts. Reno casinos also offer lavish spas, top-name entertainers, shopping, pools, workout facilities, fun activities for those not old enough to gamble, and so much more.
Lake Tahoe Casinos
While Nevada can claim being home to only one-third of Lake Tahoe, this is where 100 percent of all the gambling occurs. Stateline on the South Shore has the most Lake Tahoe casinos (four), while the other gaming options are on the North Shore in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. Stateline has the bigger Lake Tahoe casino venues, which means more gaming, lodging, dining and entertainment choices. While the North Shore establishments are smaller, the whole vibe is different there. This is definitely the quieter end of the lake. Tradition and history ooze from both locales — think Frank Sinatra in the north and Elvis in the south. Beyond the table games and slots, music remains a reason to visit the Lake Tahoe casinos. Dining choices continue to evolve as guests’ palates change.
Carson City Casinos
Carson City is the capital of Nevada and is known for its focus on arts, government and the surrounding recreational activities. But it has what few other capitals in this country can boast – casinos. Gambling in the seat of government, oh my! And, while the number of Carson City casinos doesn't rival Reno or Lake Tahoe, the range in Carson City casinos does. Here, you can tuck into a side street spot, experience a gracious dark wood-toned hall or go for the neon and glitz of bigger casinos. The rough-and-tumble atmosphere of some of the smaller, older places harkens back to the early days of the city, adding a quirky sort of appeal to the local gambling scene. But, similar to its neighbors, Carson City casinos are known to be great places to come to for a superb meal or a fun night on the town listening to a well-known band.