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Al Moe

Picture Taking in Casinos

By January 27, 2013

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Casinos used to heavily frown upon picture taking inside their facilities. In fact, after being warned against taking a photo, patrons used to be told there camera would be confiscated if they tried to take any other pictures. That cut down heavily on photos of movie stars, athletes, church deacons, and grandmothers frittering away their cash at the tables. Now we're modern and lucky. Everybody it seems, has a cell phone with a camera, and while casino personnel may ask you not to take pictures, well, it's going to happen.

So, today's casinos are being well-preserved in both photos and movies that players are surreptitiously taking (don't do it, it's naughty!), but there really aren't that many photos from the inside of old casinos. There were a few movies with casino shots, and California Split, a '70's movie about a couple of horse-track junkies that pawn everything they own to take a trip to Reno for a big poker game, is by far the best. They wind-up at the Mapes casino, and being a 40-year-old flick, it really takes you back to what the town looked like, and what the casino had to offer.

I saw the town as a kid, so I can relate, and I even took some photos years later, but I got a copy of Guy Clifton's Book, Reno this week from my friend, Judge Bill Pettite, and man, what a ride!

The book has over 200 great photos of the town spanning a 100-year period as it grew into the "Biggest Little City in the World" with the rodeo, movie stars, entertainers in the showrooms, and of course, casinos. The book includes little tidbits about the photos, the time period, and the hometown feel of the city in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Many of the photos are great vintage shots of casinos that have been dust for years, mostly from the outside of course, but the book really sets the history of the whole town, the whole Reno experience into context. You can catch it in some bookstores and at Amazon!

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