Thursday, June 7, 2012

Laughlin, Nevada: The uninteresting small casino town that's actually pretty interesting

Curious about checking out an alternative to Vegas? Laughlin, Nevada is only two hours south. Here are 84 of those little things that guidebooks don't often mention. But those who have been there know: It's the little things that just might be the most worthwhile of all.

  1. Mobile signals aren't very strong. Public telephones are easy to find.

  2. The road where all the casinos are located is appropriately named.

  3. Some of Casino Drive's electrical transformers are disguised as gambling paraphernalia.

  4. Laughlin is smack in the middle of the desert.

  5. So instead of "Zoltar", they have "Pappy".

  6. And the Colorado River is a sight to behold.

  7. If you have a boat, bring it.

  8. The river can be so huge, it's considered a lake in some parts.

  9. It almost seems like the ocean.

  10. Plants flourish by the river.

  11. But not without a little extra help. .

  12. Here's an electrical outlet that looks as though it's running power through a tree.

  13. Some of the animals that inhabit Laughlin: Rabbits...

  14. Pigeons...

  15. Crows...

  16. Little tiny jumping spiders that live under the sand...

  17. Desert finches...

  18. Ducks...

  19. Carp...

  20. Carp eat duck poop so they're found near ducks.

  21. And koi.

  22. Koi are terrifying.

  23. Because they expect you to feed them.

  24. Pigeons really are a health hazard. Please do not feed the pigeons and don't let them eat from your hands.

  25. Laughlin identifies with four flags: Nevada, The United States of America, California, and Arizona.

  26. As soon as you step into a casino, the faint aroma of smoke and steak will take you back to Golden Corral circa 1986.

  27. Rumor is, casino carpet is designed to encourage people to look up.

  28. Casino ceilings are designed to encourage people to look down.

  29. Since children are not allowed to gamble, casinos have arcades that you can send them to.

  30. You can't just leave them there all weekend, though.

  31. Pets are also welcome in gambling and hotel areas..

  32. Most patrons on the casino floor are dressed casually.

  33. The casinos market themselves through dining deals more than anything else.

  34. In fact, the local free paper has 3 pages dedicated to buffets.

  35. Two things Laughlin's local free papers have more of than your town's free papers do: Showgirls and showtunes.

  36. Laughlin is a popular overnight spot for motorcyclists touring the Southwest.

  37. Merchants pass through to sell goods at expos held at the hotels.

  38. Analog slot machines are as uncommon as windows, which slightly more common than no smoking sections.

  39. There are cigarette vending machines.

  40. Every seat has an ashtray. .

  41. It's easy to walk between casinos and restaurants along the riverwalk.

  42. A large percentage of sit-down restaurants have the steakhouse/rib-joint aesthetic and menu.

  43. Java Joe's snack bar sells cereal and Cup Noodles for breakfast.

  44. Denny's has a 1-hour wait for breakfast.

  45. Joe's Crab Shack involves physics in its cocktails.

  46. The Riverwalk has a wishing well that's completely sealed up except for a deposit slot.

  47. You can also get around by bus.

  48. Security guards often get around by bike.

  49. Casino Drive is a well-maintained road.

  50. There's just one large, noticeable lot that appears to have been abandoned.

  51. Whoever was there left their monkey statues.

  52. This small shopping center could be any American town's small shopping center, if it weren't for the poker lounge.

  53. Residences along Casino Drive are less flashy than hotels.

  54. If you hold up your hand level over your head, it helps keep the bugs away from your face. This is called the Laughlin Salute.

  55. Swatting your hand ahead of your face and torso in a fluid, limp fashion, also helps keep the bugs away from your face. This is called the Bullhead Wave.

  56. Casino signs can't be missed. They're large, brightly-lit, sometimes kitschy, and instantly classic.

  57. Every game, electronic or live, accepts cash.

  58. Machines expect you to trust them to calculate your transactions.

  59. "Ultimate" means "Not".

  60. It's okay to run your own Hold 'Em game on casino property.

  61. It's okay to take photos of electronic casino games.

  62. It's okay to take photos of live bingo.

  63. It's NOT okay to take photos of live casino games.

  64. You can come back later and take pictures when the games aren't going on.

  65. If you really wanted a photo of a live game, chances are one or two or three of the ceiling cameras caught the snap you wanted.

  66. You can watch TV while you play.

  67. Or browse the internet between games.

  68. The complimentary drinks on the casino floors make it dangerously easy to justify gambling losses.

  69. There's recycling, but it's not very popular.

  70. Public hand sanitizer is popular.

  71. Public bathrooms offer disposal containers for sharps.

  72. People leave their drinks everywhere, maybe because they know the casinos and the city will clean them up quickly.

  73. Behind the scenes of a casino hotel:

  74. Slot machine makers have fun by using themes from TV and movies:

  75. ...which sometimes use themes from board games.

  76. Some slot games use themes from bands.

  77. And some slot game themes are just random.

  78. Here's one of the more sensical slot game themes:

  79. If you win money or at least don't lose it all, redeeming your cash at the cashier window is simple.

  80. Redeeming your cash at a machine is also very simple.

  81. If you win a lot of money, your hotel would like you to spend it on souvenirs.

  82. After a long stint of gambling inside, daylight may seem strange.

  83. Hopefully you parked in a parking deck, so your car isn't 130 degrees when you return to it.

  84. On your way out of town, stop in Needles for a Hawaiian Shave Ice. It will refresh you for whatever lies ahead.


  1. I really enjoyed this! I loved exploring the lesser-known places when I lived in the States, especially places out West and with a bit of character to them. Thanks!

    Saw the link on r/nevada btw.

    1. Thank you, Ruaidhri! Yes, in the desert, talk about character!

      Woohoo, a fellow redditor!


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