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Gaming Guru

 

Books on history of gambling may explain where we are now

1 January 2009

How did Las Vegas get where it is today? Who were the people with insight, and what factors contributed to the city and the state's growth?

Historians likely will continue to study Las Vegas decades from now, charting and analyzing economic and sociological trends, looking at the swings and changes, trying to understand what makes this strange city tick. Here are a handful of key reference sources worth having in your library which may explain where we are now and give some indication of what the future holds. They're worth reading in 2009.

Neon Metropolis (How Las Vegas Started the 21st Century) by Hal Rothman (340 pages, hardbound, $27.50). Rothman, who passed away ever too soon, was considered by many to be a vital voice of conscience when it came to the growth of Las Vegas, its continuous transformation into "the last American frontier city" and what the future holds for it. A revered instructor at UNLV, Rothman saw what others needed to see about the city, a diverse, growing, unique entity, trying to find balance when considering many options, including entertainment, providing service, coping with fiscal problems including traffic, education and how the growth of suburbs slaughtered the sense of neighborhoods. Anyone (especially potential politicians) trying to understand how and why the city has changed, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, would do well to read Rothman's analysis and predictions for the city's future.

The Maverick Spirit (Building the New Nevada), edited by Richard Davies (304 pages, paperbound, $17.95). This important reference work focuses on more than a dozen key figures in Nevada history. They include Moe Dalitz: Controversial Founding Father of Las Vegas; William Fisk Harrah: Nevada Gaming Mogul; Hank Greenspun: Where He Stood; and Steve Wynn: I Got the Message. Each made unique contributions, including one with the sense and bravery to move ahead of the pack with internal and external casino innovations or with key legislation.

Resort City in the Sunbelt (Las Vegas 1930-2000) by Eugene Moehring (359 pages, paperbound, $19.95). The author, a highly respected professor of history at UNLV, explores the impact of tourism and the spectacular growth of the city, while addressing the "downside of that growth" -- increased crime, overcrowded schools and underfunded social services.

A Liberal Conscience by Ralph Denton (393 pages, paperbound, $25.95). Denton, a pioneer historian, a respected lawyer and an expert on the history of the state and its politics, helped coordinate Grant Sawyer's three gubernatorial campaigns and has had a successful law practice in Las Vegas since 1954. Denton, still active, is the father of Sally Denton, whose magnificent history of Las Vegas (The Money and the Power) is also a must-read in this area. Illustrated, with a detailed 13-page index of names and places, this is a must-read for anyone practicing law in Nevada and to help understand the political infighting, the compromises and get a better picture of the characters, deal-making and what it takes to survive in Nevada.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com