09:48
28 Jul

Las Vegas’ oldest existing casino, the El Cortez, was evacuated at the weekend amid fears of a fire, the smoke-filled venue close to a number of buildings linked to recent suspected arson attacks

El Cortez, an adult-only venue a block from the hugely-popular Fremont Street Experience and Las Vegas Boulevard, was in full swing on Saturday evening when the incident occurred.

“We were playing dice and it was just a little bit of smoke for a minute or two, and then it escalated very quickly,” James Call told KSNV after his tweet was picked up by news outlets. Call added: “Dealers locked the tables and quickly rushed everyone out.”

Thankfully, being a relatively small venue, there was no repeat of the mass panic that hit Vegas last week, when a false active shooter alert led to stampedes and injuries at multiple casinos on the strip.

A window being smashed by a disgruntled patron at the MGM Grand was mistaken for a gunshot, the false reports and hysteria spreading along the strip.

Bally’s and Paris Casino, where the World series of Poker was in its final days of play, saw similar scenes of chaos, with players and dealers hiding behind tables…


The El Cortez incident transpired to be nothing more than a suspected air conditioning malfunction, according to firefighters, with a short video showing the aftermath…

The area around the El Cortez casino has been the scene of multiple fires recently, rumoured to be connected to homeless squatters.

A vacant three-story apartment building next to the El Cortez Cabana Suites, a nearby vacant motel and a vacant restaurant were all badly damaged in separate incidents.

Las Vegas Fire Department spokesman Tim Szymanski told the Las Vegas Review Journal of the restaurant blaze, which caused $35,000 worth of damage:

“The person who called it in said they thought homeless people were messing around, possibly starting it.”

The El Cortez is one of the last remaining family-run casinos, the longest continuously running hotel and casino in Las Vegas, opened in 1941.

Still sporting the same façade it had back in 1952, the El Cortez building became, in 2013, the only existing casino to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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