Tag Archives: Sin City

Sin City

A Look at How Casinos Have Changed

With my upcoming one year expat anniversary, I thought it only fitting to have some “Vegas” on my blog. It is From Casinos to Castles, after all. 


Everyone knows that Vegas is a place of gambling, partying, and doing things we’d rather not admit to after the fact. It didn’t earn the nickname “sin city” for nothing, and it is certainly one of the best locations for nightlife in the world. However, Vegas has grown a lot over the years and offers much more than borderline illegal fun.

Only a few decades ago, the Vegas Strip attempted to expand its appeal by offering family-friendly attractions for all ages. This was not an initial success with resorts such as the original early ’90s MGM Grand’s Grand Adventures Amusement Park or Treasure Island. However, in 1998 when the Bellagio opened up, it arrived with a focus on luxury and high-end resort status.

While the Bellagio is a casino by every sense of the word, it is also host to one of the world’s finest hotels and offers dozens of top-class restaurants and shopping attractions. It is also home to the famous dancing water fountains and has many other amenities including a fine art gallery, botanical gardens, and live concerts or sports matches.

The Bellagio really set the stage for the Vegas Strip. Less than two decades later, casinos doubling as vacation resorts have become the standard. Not only is this giving Vegas a new image as a destination for high society and glamour, rather than debauchery and greed, but other cities have begun to mimic the Vegas theme, constructing their own casino resorts. The word “casino” itself is evolving from mere gambling games to include fine dining and resort hotels.

Of course, casinos are still gambling destinations. This image itself is improving, however, and many are home to high-end poker tournaments. Poker has rapidly grown in popularity and become a mainstream sport, and casinos such as Atlantic City’s Borgata are home to tournaments worth millions of dollars each year.

The Borgata, specifically, is known for being one of the best tournament destinations, with Matthew Pitt explaining it has “a reputation for running world-class tournaments and providing unparalleled service to its players.” In recent years, casino gambling has moved from what you see in mobster movies toward mainstream sports, and casinos are more like arenas or stadiums now.

Take the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, for example. While the casino ranks among the top in the world, the building itself was crafted to impress, and it is the most expensive building in the world at over $6 billion. If you’re ever thinking about seeing Singapore, this is something you can’t miss—whether you enjoy gambling or not.

While casinos gaining a reputation for being world-class is a great thing for them, it is good news for travel enthusiasts as well. Casino resorts spare no expense in making their hotels some of the best destinations to visit in the world and sights like the Bellagio fountains or the Marina Bay Sands Casino are some of the world’s must-sees.

*This piece was written by Stephanie Nichols.

Pack up what you can and sell the rest!

I have been back in the United States 2 years and 8 months….but who’s counting. During this time, I was separated from my husband for exactly one year while we went through the immigration process. My husband finally arrives and we must rush to get married because although the immigration process took a year, we have 90 DAYS to get married! So we did. And then what happened?? We got pregnant. On our wedding night. Nothing like living in fast forward. BUT WAIT….then what happened? Slooooooowwwww Mmmmoooootttiiiooon for the next year and 8 months. It feels like time stopped. But what were we thinking moving to the Midwest? I know I was thinking “it has four seasons, similar to Germany for him to acclimate easier, Forbes magazine rates Carmel as the #1 place to live” blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure who decided Carmel was the best place to live. Have these people been anywhere else or was that simply based on growth and economy? Anyway, I’m sure its obvious by now, we HATE it here. I could go on and on about why I loathe Indiana so much, but I don’t care to have it take up anymore space in my brain than it already does.


But one night, the light bulb came one….why stay? No one is forcing us to live here. Why don’t we leave? Would it be crazy to just pack up and leave? Maybe. But you couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces if you tried. And there you have it. We decided to take the road less traveled and pack up the necessities and sell the rest.

45 days. 45 days until we head to Sin City for one week of fun with my family and tearful good-byes before we head on home…back to Deutschland!  

Some think we are crazy. Some are envious of our courage. Some will never understand. But that’s what makes this even more special. We are brave. We are taking a leap of faith. We are going after our dreams. We are excited!