Caesars Palace: The Grandeur of Ancient Rome in the Heart of Las Vegas

Caesars Palace: The Grandeur of Ancient Rome in the Heart of Las Vegas

Caesars Entertainment, which today owns more than 50 hotels and casinos in major US cities, can be proud of each of its projects, and Caesars Palace is a real gem among the company’s assets. Even though completely different people founded the venue, ironically, it initially got the name that now resonates with the current owners. Let’s talk about how one of the most luxurious casino resorts in Las Vegas came into being, how it left its mark on the history of the gambling capital, and what it’s today.

Appearance and Grand Opening

The idea of creating a hotel complex destined to become one of the most recognizable in all of Las Vegas was owned by American entrepreneurs Jay Sarno and Stanley Mullin. In 1962, they applied for a $10.6 million loan to build the hotel on land that was owned by Kirk Kerkorian, another famous person in the US casino industry.

Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian is one of the wealthiest US businessmen, who once owned 40% of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas

Sarno acted not only as the founder and ideological inspirer of the project but also as the lead designer. He wanted to create a truly luxurious complex and drew his creative motivation from the once majestic Roman Empire. Sarno wanted to recreate the atmosphere and interior of the best Roman palaces in the smallest details so that every guest staying at Caesars Palace could feel like a real emperor.

There is no apostrophe in the casino’s name because the word Caesars is written in the plural. The point is that the hotel doesn’t belong to Caesars but was created for people who want to try on his role.

Caesars Palace pioneered the era of luxury casinos that began in Vegas in the late 1960s. It opened its doors on August 5, 1966, and $1 million was spent on the advertising campaign leading up to the event; that’s quite a sum by the standards of the time.

The tables were literally bursting with expensive delicacies. For the first guests were prepared:

  • Over 4,400 pounds of filet mignon.
  • 300 pounds of peeled crab meat.
  • Hundreds of pounds of red and black caviar.
  • 50,000 glasses of champagne.

The food was served by waitresses dressed in Roman wigs and robes. They welcomed guests to Caesars Palace and introduced themselves as personal enslaved people.

Famous performers like Andy Williams and Phil Richards provided musical accompaniment. The costly advertising campaign paid off: $1 million spent brought $42 million through advance room reservations. That was an excellent success.

Early History

The first casino that appeared in the hotel was called Circus Circus. According to the idea of the complex owners, this venue was going to become the most expensive in the world. Sarno wanted the casino to attract the most elite and wealthy players.

Circus Circus in Las Vegas
Today, Circus Circus is an independent casino hotel located in the north end of the Las Vegas Strip

The role of financial manager at Circus Circus was taken by Jerome Zarowitz, who was charged with fraud in 1969. Although the case never went to court, the investors put pressure on Sarno, and the casino had to be sold. Its new owners were the Lum restaurant chain, later renamed as Caesars World. Also, in 1966, the Caesars Forum Casino opened on the compound.

In 1967, Frank Sinatra began performing at Caesars Palace. He signed a three-year contract but never fulfilled it because of a quarrel with the hotel manager Sanford Waterman. Sinatra didn’t return to Caesars Palace until 1974.

With the exception of a few incidents related to the protection of African-American rights, which led to the temporary closure of the casino, and a fire in 1981, life at Caesars Palace was quiet. Its fame faded gradually, and soon the complex could hardly claim to be the most luxurious in Las Vegas.

The Transition to Caesars Entertainment and Modern History

In the early 1990s, the management of the hotel complex decided to take several measures to expand the range of services of the entertainment complex so that it could regain its former glory and overcome the competition from more modern casino hotels. In 1992, fashionable boutiques appeared there, and Caesars Palace became an attractive place for shopping.

In the early summer of 2005, Caesars Entertainment, which owned the complex, was taken over by Harrah’s Entertainment as part of a merger transaction. Later, the company name was changed to its former name in order to capitalize on the prestige of the Caesars brand.

In 2010, the casino allowed one high-limit player to dance on the table during the game. For this, the Nevada Gaming Commission fined Caesars Palace $250,000.

At the end of 2017, ownership of the hotel complex passed to Vici Properties. However, Caesars Entertainment continued to operate the property through a long-term lease with an annual fee of $165 million.

The only prolonged casino closure occurred in March 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic caused the need for a temporary pause in operation. The casino remained closed to guests from March 17 to June 4, after which it reopened.

In May 2021, the complex underwent a massive $2.4 million renovation, and in 2023, Caesars Entertainment brought in many famous music artists, including Jerry Seinfeld, Sting, Rod Stewart, and Adele.

Game Features at Caesars Forum

From 1966 to the present day, the original Caesars Forum casino, also decorated in ancient Roman style, has been operating in the complex. The venue’s interior used 20 columns of black marble decorated with gold leaf and majestic statues depicting the Roman conquests.

Caesars Forum Casino
In the center of the hall there is a colossal chandelier created with 100,000 handmade crystals.

The casino is able to offer a fairly wide selection of games, including slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, mini baccarat, and Pai Gow.

Game CategoryAvailable Number
Slot machines250
Tables for various table games30

The minimum bet size in slot machines is $0.01, and the maximum is $500, so we can say betting limits are rather broad.

Also, in 2014, the Caesars Palace poker room opened there; it takes up 4,500 square feet and is located in the center of the hall near a replica of the Colosseum.

Architecture and Landmarks

The original Roman tower, which was the first in the complex, opened in 1966 and was expanded in 1974. In early 2016, work was completed on its renovation, which cost the owners $75 million. Its architecture is based on the Greco-Roman style: fluted columns, facade pediments, statues, and fountains. The five other towers follow a similar theme.

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In addition to the hotels and casinos, the complex has boutiques, several restaurants, and three common dining rooms. Also, on the territory, you can find an epicurean hall, a conference room, and another 20 rooms for meetings and presentations. The interior of most of them uses original Italian marble with gilding.

The main attraction of the complex is the theater, the appearance of which imitates the ancient Colosseum. Marble statues in the Greco-Roman style are scattered throughout the grounds, many of which were brought directly from Florence. The most common are the statues of Augustus, Nero, and Julius Caesar.

The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
The main attraction of Caesars Palace is the theater in the form of the Colosseum

Caesars Palace is particularly attractive due to its active use of water. There are 18 large fountains that consume more than 240 million gallons of water per year.

As of 2020, there were 3,960 guest rooms in all hotel towers. Additionally, visitors can stay in 14 villas, each named after famous figures of ancient Rome.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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