The Moulin Rouge Casino and Its Impact On Las Vegas.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Even though the doors were only open for about a year in 1955, the Moulin Rouge Casino is possibly one of the most important casinos in history. The casino is the only entertainment facility included in the National Register of Historic Places and has graced the cover of Life magazine. The Moulin Rouge also has been included in the Smithsonian historical archives. These accolades are due to the Moulin Rouge’s key role in the American Civil Rights movement.
In 1955 the major casinos regularly booked big name entertainers, such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat “King” Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald. While they drew the customers, the performers were not allowed to gamble, socialize, or stay at the major casinos. However, this was not the case at the Moulin Rouge which was the first desegregated casino in Las Vegas.
Every aspect of the casino was a rare example of diversity, especially in 1955. Hotel staff and management included both black and white and also the first female to hold a Nevada Gaming License. Due to the casino’s open door policy and the fact that it was the home for black entertainers performing elsewhere on The Strip the Moulin Rouge soon became a favorite place for A-list celebrities regardless of color to gamble and socialize. The night club shows at the Moulin Rouge became so popular that they even added a 2:30 AM performance.
Despite its popularity the Moulin Rouge closed its doors in November 1955 due to mismanagement and declared bankruptcy in December of that year. Several fires over the next few years did substantial damage to the casino, but the Moulin Rouge’s place in history was far from over.
In 1960 Las Vegas was facing significant pressure concerning the racial discrimination by the Strip Casinos. Nevada’s governor, hotel owners, NAACP president Dr. James McMillian, city and state officials, and local black leaders met to end segregation at the Las Vegas casinos. The meeting which resulted in the end of segregation at all Las Vegas casinos was held at the closed Moulin Rouge.
The result of that meeting changed the face of casino gambling in terms of diversity more than any event until the internet age made it possible for people to play at an online casino such as Europa Casino.
Eventually more fires, especially one in 2009, succeeded in gutting the old casino. The historic neon sign was taken to what is now the Neon Museum. However, the casino’s legacy may not be over. Since its closing the Moulin Rouge has been a “pop up” casino. In order to retain a gaming license, Nevada law requires the licensee to open for at least eight hours every two years; something the holders have done.
Daniel Rubino of GCA Leisure, the current license holder, says that history of the Moulin Rouge is the impetus behind the company’s efforts to rebuild and reopen the casino. He says “we love the story and the significance of the site. Without that, we wouldn’t be interested.”
Rubino is not the first to attempt to resurrect the Moulin Rouge. It will be interesting to see if sixty years after the casino shut its doors if it can once again become a part of the Las Vegas scene it helped to create.
Staff Writer; Peter Curry