The 1960’s didn’t start well for Las Vegas. On June 17, 1960, most of the original Las Vegas Strip hotel casino, El Rancho Vegas, burned down. Things then stayed quiet in Las Vegas until 1966, when Howard Hughes came to town. By the time Hughes left ten years later he either current owned or had owned the Desert Inn, Castaways, New Frontier, Landmark, Sands, and Silver Slipper, and in addition he owned huge tracts of Las Vegas land. Additionally in 1966, Caesars Palace and Aladdin opened.
The 1970’s were perhaps the heyday of mob control of Las Vegas. Teamster loans were used to finance the acquisition of a variety of hotel casinos. It would take the FBI years to finally drive the mobsters out. New casinos that opened during the 1970’s include Circus Circus, Holiday Casino, and MGM Grand.
Three incredibly important events occurred in the 1980’s in Las Vegas. In 1980, 84 people died in the worst disaster in Nevada history, the MGM Grand fire. In 1986 Tony Spilotro was found murdered in a cornfield in Indiana, marking the end of major mob influence in Las Vegas. And in 1988 The Mirage, funded by junk bonds floated with the help of Michael Milken, opened for business. The opening of the Mirage signaled the beginning of the greatest growth spurt in Las Vegas Strip history, and encouraged investment in Las Vegas by major corporations.
The Las Vegas Strip was almost completely rebuilt in the 1990’s. In 1990 the largest hotel in the world, the Excalibur, opened at the corner of Tropicana and the Strip. In 1993 Mirage buys the Dunes, including its golf course, and implodes the old hotel. Also in 1993 the MGM Grand, Treasure Island, and Luxor open for business. In 1996 the Stratosphere opened, and the Sands and Hacienda closed. In 1997 New York-New York opened, and Aladdin closed. In 1998 the most expensive hotel casino ever built, the Bellagio, opened, and Hilton split their corporation into gaming and non-gaming entities. Finally, in 1999, MGM bought Primadonna Resorts, and the final three hotel casinos to open in the millennium, New York-New York. Mandalay Bay, the Venetian, and Paris opened.
Now, in the new millennium, two corporations own a large part of the Las Vegas Strip. In 2000 MGM buys Mirage, and in 2004 they also buy Mandalay Resort Group, leaving them with Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM Grand, New York – New York, Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island, and Circus Circus on the Las Vegas Strip. Meanwhile Park Place purchased Caesars World in 2000 and Harrahs in 2004, leaving them with Paris, Bally’s, Flamingo, Harrahs, and Caesars Palace on the Strip. In 2005 Steve Wynn returned to the Strip with the Wynn Resort. In 2007 two older hotels, the Frontier and the Stardust, are closed and imploded, and, finally, in 2008 the Palazzo opened for business. In addition, the other major change that is currently occurring is the incredible growth of residential condos on the Las Vegas Strip. The fastest growing city in the United States for most of the twentieth century is now looking more like a major urban city.