History of Gaming in Nevada


By 2000, Nevada's population was more than 2 million, with nearly 7,000 people moving to Las Vegas each month. The resort industry was running strong up until the fateful day of September 11, 2001. Once considered recession proof, Nevada's resort industry showed its vulnerability and the state's budget suffered dramatically as a result of the tragedy. Many resort employees were laid off as U.S. travel became a trickle of what it was just weeks before. Hotel rooms were empty, entire areas of casinos were quiet and Nevada faced one of its greatest challenges: how to inspire travel back to the state.

Through the efforts of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Nevada Commission on Tourism and Reno/Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority, Nevada steadily regained its position as the nation's favorite playground. Unfortunately, the damage was done. The state faced a budgetary crisis due to the reduced resort-related tax revenues, and it was not until 2005 that the industry regained its footing.

Las Vegas' popular "Only Vegas" campaign, which used the now famous "What happens here, stays here™" tagline, found a new market of young travelers seeking a complete resort experience. Ultra lounges, mega-nightclubs and world-class restaurants began opening at a fevered pace, and Las Vegas continued to be the city where the rich and famous came to play.

MGM MIRAGE acquired Mandalay Resort Group in 2005, making it the largest resort operator in Nevada. Soon after, Harrah's Entertainment acquired Caesars Entertainment, making Harrah's the largest gaming company in the world. A number of properties opened during the 2000s, including, but not limited to, Wynn Las Vegas, Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa, Red Rock Resort and Spa, THEhotel, Palms Casino Resort, Trump International, Encore, The Palazzo, M Resort, and ARIA (CityCenter).

In northern Nevada, Reno experienced a significant population boom throughout the decade. The city began to embrace the area's plentiful natural surroundings and rebranded itself as a gaming and outdoor/adventure destination.

  • Nevada's total population: 2,023,378
  • Nevada's annual gaming revenue exceeds $9.5 billion
  • MGM Grand Inc. announces the purchase of Mirage Resorts Inc., creating the largest corporate buyout in gaming history (to date)
  • Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino opens in Henderson; the hotel and casino is a joint venture between Station Casinos and Greenspun Corporation
  • Harrah's Entertainment acquires Harveys Casino Resorts
  • Mandalay Resort group opens THEhotel
  • Non-gaming resort revenue surpasses gaming revenue
  • Nevada's gaming revenue exceeds $10 billion per year
  • Harrah's Entertainment purchases Horseshoe Gaming Holding Corporation, which includes Downtown Las Vegas' Binion's Horseshoe and the World Series of Poker
  • Boyd Gaming Corporation merges with Coast Resorts
  • MGM MIRAGE announces plans to buy Mandalay Resort Group
  • Harrah's Entertainment reaches a definitive agreement to purchase Caesars Entertainment
  • Harrah's Entertainment plays host for the first time to the World Series of Poker; $41 million in prize money is awarded, which is more than double the amount in 2003
  • Nevada's total population: 2,418,460
  • Wynn Las Vegas opens on the Las Vegas Strip
  • MGM MIRAGE announces Project CityCenter, an "urban metropolis"; its projected cost would rise to more than $7 billion, making it the largest privately funded construction project in U.S. history
  • Golden Nugget is bought by Houston-based Landry's Restaurants
  • MGM MIRAGE's acquisition of Mandalay Resorts and Harrah's Entertainment's acquisition of Caesars Entertainment both become final
  • Nevada's annual gaming revenue exceeds $12.6 billion
  • Private equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group offer to purchase Harrah's Entertainment for more than $17 billion
  • Frank Fertitta III, Lorenzo Fertitta and Colony Capital LLC, operating as "Fertitta Colony Partners," make an offer to purchase all existing shares of Station Casinos at $82 per share and take the company private
  • Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa opens in Summerlin, Las Vegas
  • The Stardust Hotel & Casino is imploded for future development
  • The Aladdin Casino Resort transforms into Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and Desert Passage Shops become Miracle Mile Shops
  • Harrah's Entertainment announces $1 billion expansion of Caesars Palace, including a new Octavius Tower
  • Silverton Casino Lodge begins $130 million expansion
  • The Palazzo celebrates its grand opening
  • Golden Nugget completes $60 million expansion, including adding convention space and a new nightclub
  • Aliante Station celebrates grand opening on November 11, 2008
  • Wynn Resorts opens Encore Las Vegas in December 2008
  • M Resort Spa & Casino opens on March 1, 2009
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas introduces the 490-room Paradise Tower on July 31, 2009
  • Golden Nugget's New Rush Tower opens on November 20, 2009
  • MGM MIRAGE's CityCenter debuts with Vdara Hotel & Spa, Mandarin Oriental and ARIA Resort & Casino in December 2009