LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– When Resorts World opens it will be one of the largest hotel casinos in town with 3,500 rooms. This is 3,500 more rooms than the first legal gambling business also on the north end of what we now know as the Las Vegas Strip, or just the Strip.
The Strip is officially part of Nevada Route 91. The first gambling establishment on the Strip was the Pair O Dice Club, which opened on July 5, 1931 on the land that neighbors Resorts World to the south.
Before the Pair O Dice Club, there were other establishments along Rt. 91, like the Red Rooster, located where the Mirage was built. But the Pair O Dice was the first Strip property to get a gaming license after Nevada legalized gambling on March 19, 1931.
In 1939 the 91 Club had opened for business in the Pair O Dice.
It would be two more years until hotel rooms came to the Strip, the first was the El Rancho Vegas Hotel opening in 1941 at what’s now the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Sahara.
But 1941 was also the year the owners of the Pair O Dice Club sold the property. This sale led to the new owners renovating and expanding the club to become the Hotel Last Frontier in 1942.
The Last Frontier offered gambling drinking, and lodging along with its iconic fire station themed Texaco gas station.
Last Frontier Owners later added a scaled-down Western pioneer town, called the Last Frontier Village, next to the hotel.
Soon, the Last Frontier also hosted the town’s first wedding chapel, the Little Church of the West, which still exists on the south end of the Strip near the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The church has been moved two times. First from the Last Frontier to the Hacienda, now Mandalay Bay, and then across the Strip to its current location.
Jumping ahead another 10 years to 1951, the Last Frontier owners sold their property to new owners who refurbished the resort and in 1955 reopened it under the name Hotel New Frontier.
At that time headliner Mario Lanza had a $100,000 two-week contract, making him the highest paid singer in the world. On opening night he loaded up on Champagne and Seconal, passed out, and left Larry Storch to cover.
Within ten years, the property was sold again. And by 1964 construction began on a new 500-room hotel which would also be called the New Frontier and sat next to the Silver Slipper.
In July 1967, billionaire Howard Hughes bought the New Frontier and Silver Slipper, renamed it to the Frontier and added a new tower, bringing the hotel’s room total to 1,000.
The Frontier occupied the site next to the current Resorts World property until November 13, 2007 when it was imploded to make way for a new development led by Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin and former President Donald Trump.
The lot where the Frontier, Silver Slipper, and Pair o Dice Club were located is now an empty lot. If you look close you can still see the tennis courts next to Fashion Show Mall.
To the north, on what is now the Resorts Word property, the Stardust opened on July 2, 1958. The Stardust was known as the “world’s largest hotel.” It had more than 1,000 rooms and a 16,000-square-foot casino, immense for its time.
The Stardust’s iconic sign was the Strip’s biggest, measuring 216 feet long and rising 27 feet above the casino’s first floor. It displayed the entire solar system.
The resort was operated by men associated with Chicago and Cleveland crime syndicates, who skimmed millions from the resort, a scheme that inspired the movie “Casino.” In 1983, a federal grand jury indicted 15 people.
Controversy surrounding mob ties with the property ended when Sam Boyd purchased the Stardust in 1985. The resort’s modern casino and 32-story tower were built in 1991.
Later that decade, at the age of 57, Wayne Newton signed the biggest entertainment deal in Las Vegas history. He would perform exclusively at the Stardust 40 weeks a year.
At the end of 2006, the Stardust closed its doors. It was imploded on March 13, 2007.
Boyd Gaming announced that the Echelon Place was to become the centerpiece of the new north Strip, gracing 87 acres, where the Stardust and Westward Ho used to sit. It was to include 3,300 hotel rooms and a $500 million shopping promenade, but it fell victim to the Great Recession, and construction was halted in 2008.
Boyd sold the Stardust site in 2013 to Genting Group, a Malaysian company, and Resorts World began developing.
Genting Group is no stranger to large properties. It owns and operates the largest hotel in the world, the First World Hotel & Plaza in Malaysia, which claims to have 7,351 rooms.
However, Resorts World Las Vegas is massive. It will open with 3,500 rooms, more than 40 food and beverage spots, 250,000-square-feet of meeting space and 117,000-square-feet of casino space.