Las Vegas Firsts at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino

Golden Gate Hotel & Casino - 1955


Golden Gate Hotel & Casino’s legacy began when it first opened its doors back in 1906 at One Fremont Street. Golden Gate Hotel Las Vegas’ history spans the birth of Las Vegas, the Roaring 20s, Prohibition, the iconic Rat Pack era and has been reborn for the 21st century. Its prime location under the bright lights of the Fremont Street Experience provides an unparalleled Las Vegas experience, where present day extravagance merges with a fascinating past. This historic property keeps the old Vegas spirit alive with its distinctive charm and energetic atmosphere.


Golden Gate Hotel & Casino: A Brief History

The birth of Las Vegas came when the land for Golden Gate (previously Hotel Nevada) was purchased at an auction at the corner of Fremont and Main Street on May 15, 1905. The price for the prime Vegas real estate? A mere $1,750. In 1906, the first casino in Las Vegas opened its doors to the public. The local newspaper, the Las Vegas Age, published the guest register on its front page and described it as a “first-class” hotel, “as comfortable as any other hostelry found anywhere,” with “large” rooms (10’ x 10’), electric lighting, ventilation and steam-heat radiators. The railroad boom brought about gambling, alcohol and wild women. While room and board was only $1 when the hotel first opened, alcohol and gambling were extra.



In 1910, gambling was outlawed in the state of Nevada and the casino’s roulette and poker tables were forced into retirement. Fremont Street was paved in 1925, as Ford Model As and Franklin Sedans slowly began to edge horse drawn buggies out. In 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada again, and its gaming tables sprung back into action. The hotel changed its name to “Sal Sagev”, Las Vegas spelled backwards, and began its first expansion. While the rest of the United States suffered during the Great Depression, the old Vegas economy was booming due to an influx of workers in town to build the Hoover Dam. After a long absence, gambling and alcohol came back to Las Vegas with a vengeance. But Prohibition never stopped Vegas, anyway! Many years later, after Prohibition had ended, construction workers found hidden whiskey bottles in the walls of Golden Gate, which are now on display in the hotel’s lobby.



Golden Gate Hotel & Casino’s official history began in 1955 when a group of Italian-Americans visited Las Vegas from San Francisco. The original partners include Italo Ghelfi, Robert Picardo, Al Durante, Leo Massaro, Dan Fiorito and restaurateur Tiny Naylor. Italo, the team’s gaming pioneer, established a lively reputation while managing the casino for the next 40 years. In 1964, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino underwent another expansion to conceal the historical exterior and achieve a more modernized look.


Golden Gate Hotel & Casino: Firsts

As the city’s original casino, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino brought about many Las Vegas “firsts”, including:

  • 1905: Land for Golden Gate (previously Hotel Nevada) is purchased, making it the first casino in Las Vegas.
  • 1907: Las Vegas’ first telephone is installed at Golden Gate.
  • 1927: The hotel installs a large outdoor electric sign – a precursor of the neon lights to come to Fremont Street and later, the entire city of Las Vegas.
  • 1950s: Golden Gate’s partners employed a creative surveillance system using two-way mirrors above the gaming pit to detect cheating. This surveillance system is no longer used but can still be seen today.
  • 1959: Starting a true Las Vegas tradition, Golden Gate brings Las Vegas’ Original Shrimp Cocktail® to the city at a bargain price of just 50 cents. Locals continue to vote it “Best of Las Vegas” year after year.
  • 1960s: Golden Gate Hotel & Casino was the original hangout for Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin.


Golden Gate Hotel & Casino: A Modern History

Golden Gate Hotel Las Vegas restored its building back to its historical appearance when Italo’s sons, Craig and Mark, bought out the former partners in 1990. In 1995, The Fremont Street Experience shut down vehicle traffic on the street and transformed the world’s most distinguished neon street into a pedestrian mall with the biggest video screen on the globe (it’s 10 stories tall and spans 4 blocks!). The Fremont Street Experience offers a multi-sensory light show choreographed to booming, state-of-the-art sound.



In 2012, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino underwent its first major expansion in 50 years, merging modern design with its illustrious history. It now features a 35,000-square-foot luxury tower with 16 suites, an extended gaming floor with a high-limit pit highlighting its signature dancing dealers, and a new lobby displaying its historical artifacts. In 2017, Golden Gate continued its expansion, nearly doubling the size of the casino. They added a dramatic entry way on Fremont Street Experience and extended OneBar at One Fremont Street.



This landmark property in downtown Las Vegas has remained true to its vintage Vegas character. Experience this historical hotel for yourself and see all that the Fremont Street Experience has to offer.