You’ll see many, many more slot machines. Since Jay Sarno opened Circus Circus in 1968 with slots taking a big part of the floor, other casinos have expanded their slot programs. It helps that the games are becoming more entertaining and offering higher jackpots. Over the past decade, the number of slot machines in Clark County has doubled. Pan is diminishing in popularity, but casinos—inspired maybe by the attention that Binion’s World Series of Poker draws—are adding poker tables; there are almost three times as many in 1977 than there were 10 years earlier. Keno’s still popular, as is bingo. The biggest change, after the growth of slots, is that sports betting is making a comeback following Sen. Howard Cannon’s successful 1974 effort to lower the federal excise tax. And casinos are experimenting with new kinds of gambling: MGM’s jai alai fronton is one example.
Elvis has left the building—if you didn’t see him at the Hilton before December 12, 1976, you missed out. By now, vaudeville-esque revues are history, and most casino showrooms alternate between comedians opening for singers and singers opening for comedians. Liberace is lighting up the Hilton showroom, with Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy and Ann-Margret swinging in as well. The new Aladdin Theater for the Performing Arts is hosting a variety of contemporary acts, usually for two nights only, including Joan Baez, Leo Sayers, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Peter Frampton, Jimmy Buffet and Yes. Outside of the “big two” (Folies Bergere and Lido de Paris), showgirl productions, like the Sahara’s Pinups ’77, are still popular. There’s a new genre emerging—female celebrity impersonator revues. Kenny Kerr’s This Is Boy-Lesque at the Silver Slipper features an all-male cast mimicking stars like Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing, Cher, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Marlene Dietrich.
Lounges are still popular, although many are switching live bands for DJs who spin disco hits. The Maxim opened with “dynamite disco,” and the Landmark unveiled its 31st Floor Disco. You can still find more traditional fare (Rip Taylor, Lee Castle and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra), but lounges are changing with the times.