Exerpt from September 21, 1942 Life Magazine.
Money is Easy Come, Easier Go
Las Vegas, Nev. has the reputation of being the most “wide-open" town in the U. S., and revels in it. The big boom which the town enjoyed during the construction of Boulder Dam seems like high jinks at a church bingo party compared to the preposterous prosperity of today. The average paycheck cashed in Las Vegas is better than $85 a week. Truck drivers are earning up to $150. Nearby the world's largest magnesium plant paid out during construction over $900,000 every week to its 11,000 workers. Within easy hitch-hiking distance are two Army camps, which disgorge restless men into Las Vegas' whirlpool on weekends. Add to this a heavy tourist trade plus the stream of customers drifting through the town's quick marriage and divorce mills, and the reasons for Las Vegas' wide-open reputation become as obvious as the lights on fabulous Fremont Street (upper left). Moneyed people move hopefully to Las Vegas because Nevada is the only State in the Union with no income, sales, inheritance or corporation taxes. But for a town of 20,000 population (recently increased from 14,000). Las Vegas does a meat and gaudy job of shaking down dough as fast as people save it. Even drugstores resound with the clink and whirr of “one-armed bandits,” slot machines which swallow coins, ranging in size from the rare Las Vegas copper penny to the common silver dollar with equal unfairness. On this and the following pages LIFE Photographer Peter Stackpole has pictured some of the many interesting ways to lose, and sometimes win, in Las Vegas, and some of the people who spend their time and money desperately locking horns with luck.