Discover Why Las Vegas Is Known As “Sin City”

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: November 14, 2023
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If you’ve ever wanted to truly test your luck, there’s no better place to go than Las Vegas. This Nevada city has earned its place on the map for a number of spectacular reasons, ever since its discovery in the 1800s. People from around the world visit this city to get a taste of the lights, the casinos, and the famous Vegas strip. If you’ve ever known Las Vegas by another name, that name is likely “Sin City.” If you’ve ever wondered how the place got this famous nickname or were otherwise curious about the history of Vegas, you’ve come to the right place.

Why Is Las Vegas Known As “Sin City”?

Interior view of the waiting room with slot machines in Harry Reid International Airport

The title of “Sin City” was undoubtedly given to Vegas because of its reputation for “sinful” behavior.

©Kit Leong/

If there’s one thing that has consistently thrived in the city of Las Vegas since its inception, it’s debauchery. It doesn’t matter if it comes in the form of gambling, stripping, or drinking. If it’s heinously fun, you can find somewhere to partake in the city. That’s why, it seems, Las Vegas is called “Sin City.”

But, to get specific, the first known reference to Vegas as “Sin City” was in a book created by Dick Taylor and Pat Howell. These two men were the operators of a Vegas casino and published their book “Las Vegas, City of Sin?” in 1963.

Interestingly enough, locals seem to dislike this moniker. They believe that a title like “Sin City” can discredit the many family-oriented attractions of the area that take place away from the famous strip. Not to mention the beautiful nature of the area, found in places like Valley of Fire State Park.

This article isn’t about that, though. Instead, it’s about the historic happenings that led Las Vegas to become the adult playground it’s known as today. In order to get to the bottom of it, we should look at Fremont Street’s original blocks.

How Block 16 Played A Key Role

Tallest Ferris Wheel in the United States

Even during a gambling ban and the midst of prohibition, Las Vegas’ thirst for sin needed quenched.


Perhaps the real sin began back in 1910 when Nevada banned gambling. If you know anything about Vegas, then you can assume (correctly) that this put a big damper on the area’s happenings. So, what else was there to do but establish illegal, underground casinos?

These casinos, among other things, started popping up on two blocks in particular: Blocks 16 and 17, two of the original blocks of Fremont Street. When 1931 rolled around and gambling became legal again, these establishments stayed in business. They got even busier, even, as the Hoover Dam opened up in 1930. This welcomed many workers to come and spend their time (and money) in Vegas.

The Block 16 red-light district didn’t last forever, though. After living out its glory days, it was time for its time to come to a close. Who decided on this closure? The US Army, of course! They raided the many saloons ignoring prohibition laws, and sniffed out most of the well-known prostitution rings. This was all in an effort to make the area more habitable and less, well, sinful.

You can probably guess how successfully that went.

Sinning In “Sin City” Still Persists

Gambling table in luxury casino.

To this day, Vegas is the place to be when it comes to letting loose.

©Nejron Photo/

Over time, the meaning of “Sin City” changed. What were previously brothels have become strip clubs, and what were previously speakeasies have become bonafide bars. The entertainment industry began growing, and growing, at a pace that was borderline magical. Everyone from Elvis Presley to Michael Jackson began performing at the many grand venues of the area, and things began to become far more loud and far less underground.

Although things nowadays are far more up to code, there is certainly plenty of sin to be committed over in Las Vegas. This is a premiere destination for bridal parties, birthdays, anniversaries, and any other celebration you can think of. It’s a place where your dreams and wallet can either be flattened or expanded in no time at all. A place where you can let loose, and let go from your normal responsibilities. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

Other Las Vegas Nicknames

The Las Vegas Strip

One of Las Vegas’ nicknames is “Neon City” because of its blinding lights that can even be spotted from outer space.


The moniker “Sin City” is undoubtedly the most popular when describing Vegas. However, this is not the only nickname that has been ascribed to the city throughout its many infamous years. You see, this isn’t a town that is known for just one characteristic- there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Las Vegas! Below, we’ll detail some more of the interesting names that the city has been given in its tenure of existence:

  • “Neon City”: Did you know that the neon lights that are present in nearly every corner of Vegas can actually be seen from space? Though this began as a mere rumor, there have actually been NASA images released confirming this as fact. Because of these blinding lights, Vegas has often been called the “Neon City”.
  • Entertainment Capital of The World”: Many refer to Vegas as the “Entertainment Capital of The World” because, well, it’s anything but boring. Anyone can find something to sustain their time (
    and potentially swindle their dollar) if they find themselves in Vegas. With casinos, clubs, and restaurants galore, this nickname has been well-earned.
  • “City of Second Chances”: Though many will find themselves leaving Las Vegas with far less money than they entered with, this isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, there have been some instances wherein ordinary people have left the town as millionaires.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © DeltaOFF/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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