Fun-filled Harrah’s celebrates 50 years on the Las Vegas Strip
The founders of Las Vegas were often colorful and/or larger than life. Monuments to their legacies exist today in the form of long-operating Strip properties, while a few casino-resorts continue to bear the names of gaming pioneers of Las Vegas. One such place stands tall mid-Strip and is familiar to Las Vegas visitors as Harrah’s.
William Fisk Harrah did not own the property now branded with his name when it first opened, or its casino where dice have been rolled and cards dealt for a half-century as of July of this year. The joint venture with Holiday Inn was named the Holiday Casino when it began operating adjacent to the Holiday Inn Center Strip.
Harrah established himself in Reno in the late 1930s, building a bingo parlor into an empire as his influence grew statewide. A well-liked figure among entertainers and employees, he created the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 1955 and took his company public in 1971, creating Harrah’s, Inc.
He died in 1978 while undergoing cardiac surgery, and two years later Harrah’s, Inc. was acquired by Holiday Inn. By 1992, the property was under new ownership and Bill Harrah received the ultimate Vegas tribute when the building was rebranded as Harrah’s, and three years later its parent company became Harrah’s Entertainment.
Now operated by Caesars Entertainment, Harrah’s has featured headliners from Clint Holmes to Rita Rudner to the Righteous Brothers. Donny Osmond is the current living legend in residence, while risque revue “X” Country and Whose Line Is It Anyway? alumnus Colin Mochrie’s Hyprov: Improv Under Hypnosis round out the more experiential options. Fans of live musical comedies about changes and maturity will find Menopause The Musical a worthy investment of time.
Food experiences now include Ramsay’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, Bobby’s Burgers by Bobby Flay and PizzaCake by Buddy Valastro. It’s a restaurant row that Bill Harrah could admire, complemented by outdoor libations landmark Carnaval Court. Cocktails prepared with flair guarantee a constant crowd at the foot of the high-rise hotel boasting more than 2,500 rooms. It’s a contemporary casino-resort with a name that serves as a constant connection with Vegas history.
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