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Raising the Stakes

roulette
Sands Collection

Las Vegas old-timers may still remember a time when casino guests dressed up to gamble.

It seems obvious that none of these roulette players had come straight from the pool.

Moulin Rouge
Dennis McBride Collection

Early casino resorts were products of their time, an era that unfortunately included racial segregation.

The first integrated casino resort in Las Vegas opened on Bonanza Road in 1955. The Moulin Rouge was wildly successful, but financial problems forced it to close.

The Strip would follow the Moulin Rouge's lead in 1961, when casino owners agreed to end the practice of de facto segregation and welcome African-American patrons and employees with open arms.

Rivera
Marshall L. White Collection

The boom year of 1955 saw another first: the first Las Vegas high-rise.

"Towering" nine stories above the desert, the Riviera debuted with great fanfare when Liberace cut the ribbon to officially open the resort.

sands

sands
Martin J.Stern, Jr. Collection

 

After the Riviera opening, many other casinos started planning high-rise towers.

 

 

 

 

These images are taken from the files of architect Martin Stern, Jr., who built several of the Strip's classic designs, including the famous Sands tower, a 1965 remodel/expansion.

photo
Sands Collection

An enthusiastic corps of publicity directors introduced the pleasures of Las Vegas to America through a slew of fun, innovative PR gimmicks.

This 1954 photo, orchestrated by Sands PR Director Al Freeman, shows casino patrons enjoying craps, blackjack, and even slots in the cool comfort of the pool.

copa
Sands Collection
During the evenings, casino patrons took in a variety of shows. This 1963 photo shows a packed Sands Copa Room crowd thrilling to a production number.
copa
Sands Collection

Like every other casino resort, the Sands had an in-house troupe of dancers. Known as the Copa Girls, they performed in most shows at the resort.

The Sands Entertainment Department held auditions for Copa Girls in Las Vegas, Houston, and throughout the Southwest.

app

telegram
Sands Collection

As this application shows, many women with aspirations for stardom sought "a place in the sun" at the Sands.

 

 

Winning the open audition meant the first step towards a dream of fame: a new life in Las Vegas as a dancer.

sahara
Dennis McBride Collection

As Strip resorts became more popular, people unfamiliar with gambling began to visit them.

For these neophytes, casino managers provided helpful guides.

 

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Last modified Monday, 30-Aug-2010 13:43:30 PDT