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Why Is Las Vegas Called "Sin City"?

By Christina Edwards
Updated: May 17, 2024

Las Vegas is often referred to as Sin City because of its numerous adult attractions, which some may see as immoral, or sinful. This city, located in Nevada, is one of the most-visited cities in the world. It has numerous venues for adult entertainment, including gambling. Sexual services and adult beverages also are available most of the time. Las Vegas was also considered to be a city under mob rule at one time.

Millions of people visit Sin City each year. Although there are some family friendly attractions in this city, most sites are geared toward the adult visitors. The majority of these activities are considered to be immoral by many.

Las Vegas is probably most known for gambling and betting, which may thought of as sinful. Dozens of casinos and casino-hotels operate in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly referred to as the Las Vegas strip, or the strip, is where many of the flashier and best known casinos operate. These are often open and full of patrons around the clock.

Lust is considered to be another sin, and in Sin City there are several ways to satisfy one's lust. Gentlemen's clubs, better known as strip clubs, in Las Vegas are often frequented by both men and women. In these clubs, patrons can watch, and sometimes participate, as male or female dancers seductively disrobe.

Prostitution is also not uncommon in Sin City. Although it is illegal in Las Vegas, prostitutes can be often be found walking down the street. They can also be found soliciting clients in massage parlors, casinos, bars, and hotels.

Nevada is the only state in the United States where prostitution is legal. Only certain counties, however, allow this, and Las Vegas is not in one of these counties. Many of the brothels are located in the empty Nevada desert, just a short trip from Sin City.

Alcoholic beverages can also be found fairly easily in Sin City. Nearly every hotel and casino has a bar. Many casinos even serve free drinks to those who are gambling. Drinking establishments can also be found outside of the casinos.

Along with its many other vices and sins, the history of Las Vegas history also is linked to organized crime. For a good part of the 20th century, there was an abundance of mob activity. Many of the major hotels and casinos were started or run by infamous mobsters. Frank Detra, friend to Al Capone, started one of the very first Las Vegas casinos on the strip, for instance. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer Lansky were a few more infamous mobsters involved in the development of Sin City.

Near the end of the 20th century, however, city officials began trying to clean up the city. Their goal was to shed the Sin City image and make more families want to visit. The mission was partly successful, but since then, marketers have given up on the family image. Instead, Las Vegas is advertised as a place where adults can have fun and sin a little.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Mar 23, 2014

This article helps to clear up a misconception many people have. While prostitution is wide spread in Vegas, the oldest profession is not legal in the city, and an infraction in this area can lead to unwanted contact with the police.

First timers in Sin City should know that the brothels and areas of legal prostitution are outside the county boundaries of Las Vegas.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 22, 2014

For those of you familiar with Cirque du Soleil, I probably do not need to mention that Vegas is a great place to go to take in one of these shows. If you are not familiar with these shows then you should make plans to see one when you are in the city. The shows are a great mix of circus and street entertainment, with varying themes.

By Animandel — On Mar 22, 2014

The name Sin City does a disservice to the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding communities. Granted, there are plenty of locations where people can entertain their vices, but there are also more than enough attractions for families and children. The city leaders of Vegas began making an effort in the late 20th Century to change the image of their city, and in many areas, they have done a good job of doing exactly that.

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