Las Vegas, Las Vegas Strip Guests Asked to Keep the Kids at Home

While one Strip resort is doubling down on families, more are going 21+ and the city has a message for parents.

The Las Vegas Strip became known as a gambler’s haven in the 1940s after its first resort El Rancho Vegas opened and was shortly followed by other hotel casinos, such as the Flamingo.

The Strip expanded in the 1950s and 1960s as more hotel casinos rose, including the New Frontier, Riviera, Sahara and Sands, many of which were funded by organized crime along with Wall Street banks, union pension funds, endowments and other sources, according to Tourists began filling the resorts, drawn by the slot machines and gaming tables, as well as big name entertainers like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, and pianist Liberace.

Las Vegas continued its reputation as a gambler’s mecca through the 1970s, but a difficult economic period hit Sin City in the early 1980s fueled by competition from Atlantic City, N.J.’s, newly legalized casino gambling; a national recession and economic downturn; and a tragic fire at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in November 1980 that killed 85 people, according to a University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research paper.

The city’s hotel casinos in the 1990s decided they needed to appeal to untapped and underserved clienteles to generate new revenue streams, and their answer was to market Las Vegas to families instead of individual gamblers. By the mid-1990s, the Las Vegas Strip’s major properties had built attractions targeted to families.

“In less than 10 years, virtually every hotel on the Strip was demolished or rebuilt, at an estimated total cost of $12 billion,” ABC News reported, according to the Center for Gaming Research.

Image source:  MGM Resorts International.

The Family-Friendly Era Begins in the 1990s 

The Las Vegas family-friendly era began in 1990 with opening of the family-themed Excalibur Hotel and Casino and in 1993, MGM opened its Grand Adventure theme park. More family-oriented attractions such as the Luxor Hotel and Casino’s Nile River Tour and Treasure Island’s pirate show “Battles at Buccaneer Bay” contributed to the family atmosphere on the Strip.

Some hotel casinos, such as the Riviera, Stardust and Tropicana didn’t adopt the family-friendly campaign, and by the mid 90s, the Tropicana launched an anti-family advertising campaign that said “they got strollers, we got rollers.”

As the new millennium began, the family-friendly pirate show ended in 2003 and was replaced by a more adult-themed “Sirens of TI” show that closed in 2013.

Also in 2003, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority decided that the family-friendly focus was not working and launched a new adult-oriented marketing campaign based on “What happens here, stays here.” As this campaign proceeded, many of the family-friendly attractions on the Strip disappeared, except, of course, for the always family-oriented Circus Circus casino that opened in October 1968.

Reviving an Adult-Friendly Campaign

As the 20th anniversary of the convention and visitors authority’s “What happens here, stays here” campaign approaches, the business organization is reinforcing its adults-only focus with a new advertising campaign that encourages parents to leave their children at home when they visit Sin City.

The humorous advertisements include one with a father explaining to his son how broccoli is the favorite food of Las Vegas and that there are many dentist offices in Las Vegas that children regularly visit, according to

The ad ends with a phrase: “You can bring your kids to Las Vegas, but why would you.”

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