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There is more to Vegas than just slot machines

By Shamlal Puri | Mar 22nd 2016 | 4 min read

Las Vegas is a dream destination for anyone in search of the high life in the fast lane.

Surely, the 42.31 million visitors who visit this American city every year would not be wrong in their search of a thrilling holiday full of glamour and glitz.

However,for this you will have to stuff your wallet with 100 dollar bills and have a Plan B stuffed with more greenbacks if you want to join the roller coaster ride and have a good time in this city of sin where life swings like a roulette wheel.

I have always posed this question — what exactly is a sin city? Is it a place where sins as defined by religion can be committed without fear of retribution from either God or the law? This neon-lit city of Las Vegas in the state of Nevada fits the bill.

This city has always been America’s dirty little secret. Its history reads like a Hollywood thriller.

The deserts of Nevada were the US’s foremost site for testing nuclear weapons during the Second World War.

Years later, the state became the site for the disposal of radioactive nuclear waste. Las Vegas grew from a small hamlet of about 8,000 people in 1940 to a modern neon mirage glittering desert city with a population of over 600,000.

Long before Las Vegas became the entertainment capital of the world, mobsters descended on this Wild West frontier outpost after Nevada legalised gambling.

The Sin City is both celebrated and scorned as an oasis of gambling, with a boisterous risqué nightlife and entertainment. Its primary attraction is gambling.

Mobster Ben Siegel (Bugsy) arrived in Las Vegas and opened the famous Flamingo Casino Hotel in 1946 — and it was so glamorous that even the staff wore tuxedos.

The hotel’s neon sign electrified a dusty section of the desert highway which later transformed into the world’s most famous Strip — a must visit place. Each building you see in the city is bigger than the one behind you.

Gamblers in action at the casino tables along the Strip hardly missed a beat even when the recent economic recession had hit the US.

For many years, members of the mob had a stranglehold and were the backseat power on ‘The Strip’. The syndicate was so strong for so many years that it took some powerful American law makers to separate the mob from its money.

The Strip

Now, it is easy to visit both sides of the Strip and enjoy a slice of mob history in the museums.

I arrived Las Vegas from London as the sun had set and the city was ablaze with brightly-lit neon lights with inviting signs.

Even though I was jet-lagged after the trans-atlantic flight, I was tempted to head to the casinos and watch punters stuffing their pockets with their easy pickings from gambling or losing their shirt if their luck is as diffused as a dead bulb.

I stayed at the plush MGM Signature Hotel in The Strip. It is connected to the world famous MGM Grand Hotel and Casino by a series of walkways and the casino that was buzzing with activity each time I visited it.

Punters were walking everywhere on the red carpet trying their luck using roulettes, slot machines or cards.

I had a flutter with a $100 bill just for the fun and experience of it and lost the lot!

To avoid further temptation of digging deeper into my pockets, I kept on pinching my arm reminding myself there was no such thing as mother luck or the wheel of fortune.

As expected, the odds are always stacked in favour of the owners who say their casinos make big money. This is because there is solid mathematics behind the games, particularly, as one visitor put it — the law of large numbers. But this probably may not be the whole truth.

One perk that you enjoy during gambling is free drinks served by hostesses — but only as long as you are playing.

In Las Vegas, no one goes to sleep and the casinos never close their doors. Even if you step out of the gambling palaces, enjoy the naughty nightlife or sip cocktails under the stars at a rooftop bar or watch one of the many free-for-all shows in The Strip.

Las Vegas is also an easy place to get married. People get married for a day while in a drunken stupor and divorce once they have sobered up and realised that the partner is not really whom they really wanted to tie the knot with!

Take your pick for the kind of marriage you want — French, Dutch or German wedding and as posh as you want so long as you have the cash.

Apart from the excitement at the roulette tables and facing the marriage registrar, Las Vegas city has other exciting places to offer.

Musical Fountains

The beautifully choreographed musical fountains at Bellagio resort promise to romance your senses. I enjoyed a spectacular show thoughtfully interwoven with water, music and light set against the backdrop of Las Vegas’ lavender sky. Audiences get mesmerised. Life-like statues of Pharaohs and the Sphinx and numerous museums will keep you busy.

Las Vegas is a power-shopping destination and boutiques open until midnight.

The city is dotted with hundreds of restaurants that serve mouth-watering dishes. But remember American food portions are really big because they throw caution to the winds when it comes to eating calorie-laden food.

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