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History of Gambling in Wendover

In the throes of the Great Depression, Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. One of the first gaming licenses issued was to a man named William Smith.

Smith had been riding the rails for free from San Fransico when he had been caught and evicted just outside of Wendover. Smith got a job at the potash mine near town and he never left. After two years in Wendover, Smith and a partner, Herman Eckstein opened a small garage for the travelers going along the Victory Highway from Salt Lake City to Reno. The Cobble Stone, as the garage was called, soon saw Smith and Eckstein open a 15-room hotel -- The Stateline. After Eckstein's death and a squabble with Eckstein's son, Smith became the sole owner of the Stateline. In 1935, Smith married one of the coffee shop waitresses, Anna Sorensen. In 1938, the Smith's decided to build a new air conditioned hotel. Financing at first was a problem but after the hot drive out from Reno the bankers gave the go ahead.

During World War II, the Stateline saw a boom as 19,000 captive soldiers with money to spend found the Stateline an appealing place to be. In 1952, once again a new, expanded version of the hotel was built by the Smith's. With The Stateline, The A-1 (owned by a gentleman named Fred West), and a couple other smaller gaming palors Wendover was now a destination for the Salt Lake City area. William Smith died in 1958 and Anna Smith continued to run the business. In the late 1960's, she purchased the A-1 renaming it Jim's Casino. The town continued to grow in reputation throughout the 1970's.

In 1981, the Stateline was again expanded, adding a convention center to go with more hotel rooms and more casino space. At this time the town had four casinos. In addition to the Stateline and Jim's casino's, the town also had the Goldrush and Red Garter Casino's. A year later, the Nevada Crossing Casino opened. 1984 saw the opening of the Silver Smith Casino Resort. The Silver Smith was built across the old Victory Highway from the Stateline by the Smith family and the two buildings are attached by a skywalk across the old highway.

1985 saw a new major player come to town when the Peppermill Corporation purchased the Goldrush Casino. After extensive remodeling and expansion it opened in July of 1985. Over the last 14 years, the properties have all gone through various expansions. The Peppermill Corporation purchased the Nevada Crossing in 1996 and after considerable expansion and remodeling reopened the Casino as the Rainbow Casino. Over the last year both the Stateline and Pepermill and Rainbow properties have once again done large expansions.

Wendover is now a premier destination for an area that encompasses most of the Western United States. Most vistors say they like coming to Wendover because it offers full Nevada entertainment without the crowds of Las Vegas or Reno. If you would like to see more about these spots, follow these links:

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Copyright 1999-2007 James Eveleth. All rights reserved.