When Las Vegas officially became a town, the land along Fremont Street near the railroad station was sold at auction. The exact location of the Golden Gate casino was purchased for $1750. When the building was finished the following year, 10x10 rooms were offered for $1 a night. The modest rooms featured electricity and steam heat ventilation. Refrigerated air (air conditioning) had not been invented yet and the stifling heat of summer often surpassed 110 degrees!
In 1907, the hotel made headlines with the first phone in the downtown area, but the gambling offered in the Apache bar (roulette and poker) was lost when the Town Fathers outlawed gambling in 1909. Trains continued to arrive regularly in Las Vegas and the small city became a minor tourist attraction with restaurants, bars, and a lively red light district.
When gambling was legalized in 1931, the hotel, then named the Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards), added poker, chuck-a-luck, roulette, and eight slot machines. A cooling plant was added in the basement to supply crude air conditioning, but the workers from the nearby Boulder Dam project who came to enjoy a few beers hardly noticed.
Casinos like the Sahara, Sands, and Desert Inn opened along the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950's and the downtown area got its first makeover. In 1955 a group of business partners from the San Francisco Bay Area purchased the struggling hotel casino and named it the Golden Gate.
After a slow start, the casino started booking regular profits as more and more tourists came to Las Vegas to enjoy the only legal casinos in the US. The small hotel was expanded in the 1960's to feature larger, more comfortable rooms.Today's Golden Gate Casino
As major strip casinos like the Mirage, Excalibur and Treasure Island dominated Nevada gambling in the 1990's, the downtown casino owners transformed their tired and struggling area into the Fremont Street Experience in 1995. The ten-story high, 2.1 million-light display brought a new group of predominantly younger players to the downtown area and helped keep the smaller casinos alive.
The Golden Gate offers 106 recently remodeled rooms, most of which can be booked for under $50 a night. The gaming is high-energy, but low limit. Many nickel and multi-denomination slots dot the small casino floor, and slot club members that join Club 1906 can take advantage of a liberal return rate for the slots, and the club's rewards.
Currently, each $1 in slot play is good for 1 point, with 100 points equal to $1 in future free play. Video poker enthusiasts receive 1 point for every $4 in gaming action. Table games also accumulate comps.Casino Floor
The Golden Gate has a modest size casino floor with newer slots and plenty of video poker games. The casino features a pit of table games with blackjack, roulette, 3-card poker and Let It Ride. In addition, craps is offered with 10x odds.
To appeal to the younger crown, sexy dancing dealers strut their stuff around the pit. Table limits are low, but the music and energy are high as music reverberates from the Fremont Experience as well as from inside the Golden Gate. It's not grandma's casino any more.
The current owners, who took over in 2008, plan an expansion that will include a 35,000-square-foot, five-story luxury tower. The casino floor will be expanded to match the newly updated "D" casino at the other end of the downtown area (previously Fitzgerald's).Dining
The Golden Gate still features their famous $2.99 shrimp cocktail in Du-pars restaurant and bakery. To date, the club boasts it has served over 40 million of the tasty treats. Du-pars is a full-service restaurant, open 24-hours, and features a very reasonably-priced variety of dishes.
Free validated parking is available for most of the casinos and hotels in the downtown area, adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience.