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The stories are legion. The rumors widespread. The images famous. Las Vegas sprang up and became a mecca for gamblers. By the 1960s it was just hitting its stride as gambling in the sixties took on a sheen of celebrity. From the Rat Pack to the Mafia it was a magical land of smoke and mirrors people found fascinating. The aspirational boom, that still drives online betting sites in the US today like, brought in the punters by the millions and made Vegas the legend it is today.
The 1960s was awash with the war in Vietnam, the hippy counter-culture and a booming economy. Out in the Nevada desert, Las Vegas was an island of gambling in the sixties amid an otherwise gaming free America. It drew visitors looking to trust their luck, both shattering illusions and making dreams come true. Perhaps as Woodstock drew the longhaired fringe elements, Las Vegas was the playground of the establishment, the wealthy and new jet set.
A fantasyland in which to escape from the conformity of the American dream. The now famed adage “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” was born out of gambling in the sixties. Time at the tables was still a tainted pastime despite its acceptability. Its brash sheen was a world away from the emollient understatement of European casinos. Even James Bond couldn’t make Las Vegas suave, but gambling in the sixties was every bit as popular as a bet on sports in the US today.
Gambling In The Sixties Was All Las Vegas
The effect of this period on cultural icons of the United States was profound. The heady mixture of riches, glamour, and the possibility still fascinating directors today. However, portrayals of gambling in the sixties weren’t always retrospective. The first Ocean’s 11 movies was made in 1960. This fed the legend of Las Vegas that is still eating up time on the silver screen today. Beyond creating some of the cultural touchstones of modern US culture, it also shaped the economic future.
“Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks – it says ‘goodbye’.”
Gambling in the sixties, like at every other point in history, attracted its own share of cheats. Some of them far more influential than perhaps might be imagined. The work of Ed Thorp and the MIT Blackjack team for instance. Their Vegas based antics directly lead to the development of ‘game theory’ that now runs most corporate decision-making. US gambling laws might have relaxed, but the grip on the economy that the theories developed at the tables in Vegas has didn’t.
Sites Like Bovada Keep The Vegas Ethos Going
Elvis and the Beatles helped define Vegas as the celebrity sprinkled paradise. The name alone conjures images of Liberace, Wayne Newton and the Rat Pack on stage. But if gambling in the sixties in Vegas was star studded, it also had a dark side. The influence and activities of organized crime were obvious. This would have a lasting effect on law enforcement forcing it to adapt, perhaps not before time. Today, of course, it is Vegas which is adapting as other states loosen their gaming laws.
“You can ask any little girl coming out of a kindergarten in Las Vegas and she’ll tell you how to find a bookie.”
Not that anywhere will match Vegas and its culture of gambling in the sixties. Legendary casinos like The Sands, Flamingo, Riviera and Desert Inn created an image that still endures. Some, like the famous sign welcoming visitors, have survived in one form or another. They’re a pale shadow of what they were in their heyday, of course, but still attract visitors each year to try their luck. Competing with other states and online sportsbook sites in the US like Bovada, however, see this legendary home of gambling slip away for good.
We take a look at gambling in the sixties when Las Vegas was the center of the new gaming world.