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Club Pair-O-Dice

1931 Club Pair-O-Dice Las Vegas
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Photo of the 1931 Pair-O-Dice Club. This early nightclub was located on the Strip when it was called the Los
Angeles-Arrowhead Highway. Before the large casino-hotels of the 1940s the Strip had a few popular nightclubs
like the 1932 Red Rooster (where Treasure Island is now located) and the 1931 Pair-O-Dice Club. Basically
one of the first, few nightclubs on Highway 91 - this building could possibly be considered the first casino
on the Las Vegas Strip though it only had a few slots and gaming tables and was mainly used for nightime
dining and dancing. It changed owners and names several times. In 1939, it was owned by Guy Mc Afee, who,
six years later, went on to open the Golden Nugget casino downtown.

While the Last Frontier Hotel and Desert Inn may have seemed to spring up over-night in the barren desert,
that area of the Strip did have a bit of nightlife that pre-dated the larger hotels with Club Pair-O-Dice,
the Red Rooster and the Player's Club (located where Wynn Las Vegas now stands).

Though Club Pair-O-Dice was opened in the 1930s - it can't be considered the first true, Strip casino, since
it didn't offer motel rooms and all the amenities of the first true resort complex, the 1941 El Rancho.
Still, Club Pair-O-Dice holds a substantial spot in Las Vegas history simply by existing by itself for
over 10 years and being incorporated into the Last Frontier Hotel (as the Club 21 casino) for over 20 years.

Club Pair-O-Dice and the Frontier
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In 1942 the Last Frontier was built on and around the former Club Pair-O-Dice property. The octagonal
shaped nightclub is seen (in blue) having been kept from demolition and actually incorporated into the
Last Frontier as an entrance to the Gay Nineties Saloon and used as the 'Club 21 Casino'. The building
remained in constant use even after the 1955 New Frontier was opened north of the Last Frontier. The
Last Frontier and New Frontier were both eventually demolished and replaced by the 1967 Frontier.


Why The Strip?

Tucson Daily Citizen - October 16, 1950

Las Vegas News Article 1950
1950 Crowell-Collier Publishing Co.

The gambling business is definitely profitable. The Golden Nugget, largest gambling house in Las Vegas was built during the war at a reported cost
of $1,000,000. That million according to Mayor Ernest Cragin, was recouped the very first year. Since then profits have averaged only slightly
lower. With nine such lucrative active gambling houses in the downtown area and hundreds of slot machines scattered all over town, it would
certainly seem that license fees could be raised and raised again without ruining the gambling business.

But gamblers, like nearly everybody also run away from high taxation. In Las Vegas they run to the County Strip, the area on the Los Angeles
highway just beyond the city limit. Here have been built the magnificent hotels - the flamboyant Flamingo, El Rancho Vegas, The Last Frontier,
The Thunderbird and the new Desert Inn. Their bars pay license fees only one-third as high as those within the city. Their slot-machine and
crap-table licenses cost less. Instead of paying high city real estate taxes on expensive downtown land, they spread all over low-cost desert
acres, where county taxes are only one-third as great.

Thus the gambling interests, virtually the same people in town as out on the Strip, have a tremendous lever to use whenever the city thinks about
increasing gambling taxes. "Raise our taxes" they say in effect, "and we'll all move out to the Strip".


Last Frontier Hotel

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The original Club Pair-O-Dice can be seen at left after its inclusion into the 1942 Last Frontier Hotel and
Casino. The Last Frontier was the second Strip casino - built just one year after the 1941 El Rancho.
Like most things in history, the Last Frontier was a conglomeration of various earlier elements.

After the 1931 legalization of six week 'quickie divorces' and gambling in the state of Nevada, Las Vegas
began to be seen as a place of opportunity by businessmen from other states. Actor Hoot Gibson was
one of several who saw the profitability of opening a Dude Ranch to house 'divorcees' for their six week
residency and named his ranch the 'D-4-C'. Other dude ranches were Kyle Ranch, Twin Lakes & the Bar W.

Such ideas and developments were noticed by many others, including Thomas Hull who brought his
successful California chain of El Rancho Hotels to Las Vegas and (after much careful consideration and
input from local businessmen) chose its location on what is now near the south-west corner of Sahara
Avenue and the current Las Vegas Strip.

While 'Myth-Illogical History' states that Tom Hull chose the El Rancho's location simply after having a
flat tire in the desert and noticing a for-sale sign on some vacant land...such stories of 'insightful flashes
and visions in the desert' hold little weight in reality. The same is true for the other popular Vegas Myth
of Bugsy Seigel stopping to urinate in the desert and instantaneously deciding to open a casino on that
very spot and naming it after his girlfriend's long legs. Las Vegas history is full of falsely exaggerated tales.

Tom Hull's unique idea was to add gambling to the next hotel in his El Rancho California chain. He expanded
on the Dude Ranch developments in Las Vegas in a highly stylized way and after much well-thought out
planning added a casino-hotel in 1941 Vegas to his Fresno, Indio, Bakersfield and Sacramento motel chain.

At the same time, Texas movie-chain owner, R.E. Griffith saw the possibilities that lay along the popular
highway leading into Las Vegas and purchased Club Pair-O-Dice and the land surrounding it to open
his version of a Gambler's Dude Ranch...called The Last Frontier in 1942.

The seller of Club Pair-O-Dice, Guy McAffee took his profits downtown to invest in some already
operating casinos and then opened his own Golden Nugget Casino just three years later.

The mini-gambling-boom happening in Las Vegas was obviously noticed by many other promoters and in 1944
Tony Cornero (1931 Meadows Casino owner) came back to open his S.S. Rex Casino in the Apache Hotel.

In the meanwhile, The King of Hollywood Nightclubs (owning six) and former protegee of New York City
mayor Jimmie Walker - Billy Wilkerson (the powerful publisher of the world famous Hollywood Reporter
and close friend of Tony Cornero) decided to bring his unique version of Sunset Strip Nightlife to Las Vegas
in the form of his Flamingo Hotel idea, which he started building in 1945. His prior experience in running
NYC Prohibition Era speak-easy nightclubs (including the Stork Club) gave him a big advantage when
building his mini-nightclub-empire in Hollywood. Besides his four other nightclubs the most successful
were his Ciro's and Trocadeo. His Flamingo was to be the next logical link in his chain.

But, before there ever was a Flamingo Hotel - there was the most lavish hotel ever built in Las Vegas.
The Last Frontier Hotel-Casino & Frontier Village. Including. It's very own Rodeo Grounds!

Last Frontier and Rodeo Grounds
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Illustrated view of the complete Last Frontier property - showing the roadside pool, the front casino building
the room-wings and courtyards. This second Strip hotel opened 19 months after the El Rancho Vegas on
October 30, 1942. It offered even more comforts than the El Rancho. The Last Frontier might be considered
the first casino-hotel to establish a theme. While the El Rancho used a California Mission style with Wild
West accents - The Last Frontier took the Old West theme to its full limits in its architecture and furnishings

Before the hotel opened, the old bar from the 1906 Arizona Club was installed in the Gay Nineties Saloon and
Club Pair-O-Dice was converted into a casino and re-named Club 21. The hotel offered Old West stagecoach
rides to and from the airport and to the downtown area. Employees wore western outfits. An Old Western Village
was placed on the south (left). In 1950 the Frontier Village and Silver Slipper were set up on the north end.
In following the Dude Ranch pattern, The Last Frontier went so far as to build a corral and rodeo grounds
behind its main buildings and held regular Wild West events and parades.

This area, that once set trends in Las Vegas, is coming back to life in new forms. The Trump Tower has opened
just to the left of the former rodeo grounds. Wynn Las Vegas is now across the street from this hotel and the
Encore has been built across the Strip from the duckpond seen at the right edge of this picture - where the
Desert Inn stood for 54 years. Few people could have foreseen the lively future of this Pair-O-Dice location.

Last Frontier Roadsign
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This low-level, low-key, Last Frontier roadsign greeted drivers along the Highway 91 road into Las Vegas.

Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

From the time of its opening, in 1931, the Pair-O-Dice Club was operated by several owners who used different
names for this octagonal shaped nightclub and dancehall. For several years it was called the '91 Club' or 'Club 91'
due to its location on Highway 91 (also called the Los Angeles Highway and formerly the Arrowhead Highway).
This area of the highway was about a mile from the city limits and about two miles from the more popular
downtown area of tightly packed, neon lit casinos. Casino developers, in the 1940s, saw the benefits of
low-priced land and low-taxation out on the County Strip. The Last Frontier owners likely saw the budget
benefits of keeping the Pair-O-Dice building and using it as part of their new hotel.

Poolside on the Road at Last Frontier
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When The Last Frontier opened it kept the uniquely shaped octagon building and included it into its front
entertainment area where the saloon, bar and casino were located (left). Its name was changed to
'Club 21' - likely as a Blackjack twist on its previous 'Club 91' name.

This front area of the hotel contained its Gay Nineties Saloon, Club 21, the Carillo Lounge and Ramona
Room. Hotel guests can be seen relaxing near the pool which was set, in front, right next to the highway.


'Last Frontier Pool & Hotel' 18x12 Inch Art Print

Last Frontier Pool - Art Print
WestVegas.com & Art.com

'Last Frontier Hotel' 18x12 Inch Art Print

Last Frontier Hotel Front - Art Print
WestVegas.com & Art.com

'Poolside at The Last Frontier' 18x12 Inch Art Print

Poolside at the Last Frontier - Art Print
WestVegas.com & Art.com

'Club 21 at The Last Frontier' 18x12 Inch Art Print

Club 21 - Art Print
WestVegas.com & Art.com

The Best in Old & New Vegas Art. Photos, Posters and Framed Stretched Canvas Art Prints.
Click below to see the entire Las Vegas Art Gallery.

WEST VEGAS ART GALLERY


Club 21 in Last Frontier
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The remodeled 1942 interior of the former Pair-O-Dice Club (The Last Frontier's 'Club 21' casino area)
included roulette, craps & blackjack tables as well as slot machines.

Marshall Fey Slot Machine Books

Gambling Machine
Marshall Fey Slot-Machine Books from Amazon
Grandson of Charles Fey - inventor of the three reel slot machine.

The 'Mills' Black Gold Bells' 1948 slot machine replaced their earlier 1945 'Mills' Golden Falls' machines.

The invention of slot-machines, in the 1880s, helped spread gaming across the United States. During the 1890's
an entire slot-machine industry took hold in the Barbary Coast Area of San Francisco. The Mills Slot Machine
Company - started by Charles Fey - was a major innovator in these coin operated devices. Before the influx
of slot-machines, gambling involved a certain amount of knowledge and skill. With the arrival of slots -anyone
whether rich or poor, smart or just plain dumb & lucky could win money by gambling. Slot-machines leveled
the playing field for winning jackpots. Suddenly, anyone with a nickel had a chance at a grand-prize.

As unregulated gaming spread across the USA, the developments of these 'automated gaming devices' proceeded
at a pace similar to the computer industry of the last 30 years. Slot manufacturers (also producing jukeboxes
and cigarette vending-machines) worked hard to create new and improved models and designs to gain attention.
New styles were introduced almost semi-annually, in the same fashion as car manufacturers and
electrical appliance makers came out with a constant stream of newly re-styled competitive models.

The Last Frontier used the Mills' brand of slot-machines almost exclusively. In 1948, they updated
their slot machines to this 1948 'Mills' Black Gold Bells' model.

Last Frontier Casino Floor
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The 'Mill's Black Gold Bells' slot-machines are seen inside the Last Frontier's casino.

Last Frontier's Carillo Room Interior
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Interior of The Last Frontier's Carillo Room.

1942 Last Frontier Color View
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The Last Frontier's roadsign, main entrance and front room wing.

Last Frontier's Roadside Across from Wynn Encore Vegas
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View of the Last Frontier's roadside pool, with Sunrise Mountain in the background, on what is now the
Las Vegas Strip. The Wynn and Encore Las Vegas Hotels now stand directly across the Strip from here.

1910 Las Vegas Covered Wagon
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1910 covered wagon, in the Las Vegas desert, with Sunrise Mountain in the background. The Last Frontier
capitalized on the 1940s public's fascination with the romanticized version of the Old West then shown in the
trendy Western films of the 1930s and early forties' movie theaters. The Last Frontier provided a
'living version' of the Wild West in a pre-Disneyland fashion...with gambling included.

1940s Last Frontier Stagecoach Party
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The Last Frontier provided hotel guests with replications of frontier life in the Old West with
events like stagecoach parties and horseback rides around the rodeo grounds and surrounding desert.

Last Frontier Stagecoach at Entrance
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The stagecoach and passengers in front of the Frontier's "The Early West in Modern Splendor" neon slogan.

Stagecoach Passengers
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Last Frontier manager, Bill Monroe, giving actress Claudette Colbert & actors a stagecoach tour of the desert.

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The Pair-O-Dice / Club 91, seen in 1958, incorporated into the Last Frontier (behind the yellow Oldsmobile).
By the mid-fifties more asphalt was being placed in front of the Last Frontier.

Last Frontier Pool
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The original pool of the Last Frontier was square shaped. When the Desert Inn opened, with its curved pool
it was a definite break from the 'square' styles of 1940s casino pools.

Poolside at the Last Frontier
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Thru the years the pool became less open to roadside traffic and shaded areas were extended.

Lobby at the Las Frontier
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Mounted buffalo and elk heads, stone fireplaces and saddles greeted guests in the Last Frontier lobby.

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This section of hotel rooms were labeled as being in the Western Patio.

Last Frontier's Ramona Show Room
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The Ramona Showroom with its wagon-wheel chandeliers.

Ramona Show Room Stage
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The stage in the Ramona Showroom. Advertisements for the showroom were run regularly in the
'Hollywood Reporter' newspaper which was founded and operated by Billy Wilkerson - the Hollywood
nightclub owner who would start building his own Las Vegas casino, The Flamingo, three years later in 1945.

Gay Nineties Showgirls
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Showgirls of the Gay Nineties' Saloon at The Last Frontier.

Will Rogers Display at Last Frontier
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The Last Frontier's 'Empty Saddle' display of famous social humorist Will Rogers who entertained Americans
from 1900 until his death in a plane crash in 1935. The display consisted of his 3 old saddles and portrait.

The Stagecoach Showgirls of the Last Frontier
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The entire old structure of the Pair-O-Dice Club (also known as Club 91 because of its Highway 91 location)
can be seen being used as part of the Last Frontier. The octagonal shaped area became known as the
'Club 21' casino and the left side became part of the 'Gay Nineties Saloon'.

The Last Frontier's 'Stagecoach Beauties' are seen on top of the coach (at right).

Stagecoach Beauties
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Close-up of the 'Stagecoach Beauties'. Every Strip casino would use sexy showgirls to attract customers.

 Mid-Forties Aerial of Last Frontier, Wynn & Encore Las Vegas
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1942 aerial view of the entire Last Frontier Hotel-Casino complex. The Desert Inn would open, 8 years later
where the Encore label is seen. The 2005 Wynn Las Vegas Hotel now occupies the area across the Strip.

When the Last Frontier opened it was a spectacular oasis surrounded by miles of empty desert. That was its
original appeal. "Modern Splendor" in a formerly empty and barren desert. Few could then imagine that 47
years later Steve Wynn would bring Dolphins to the Desert at his 1989 Mirage Hotel - much less a tree
lined mountain lake to his Wynn Las Vegas Resort, 63 years after the Last Frontier opened.


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