In the old days, the casinos along Las Vegas’s legendary Strip were cut-throat rivals. Each stood a long way back from the road, and was a dark, low-ceilinged labyrinth, in which it was all but impossible to find an exit. During the 1980s, however, visitors started to explore the Strip on foot. Mogul Steve Wynn cashed in by placing a flame-spouting volcano outside his new Mirage. As the casinos competed to lure in pedestrians, they filled in those daunting distances from the sidewalk and between each casino and the next.
With Las Vegas booming in the 1990s, gaming corporations bought up first individual casinos, and then each other. The Strip today is dominated by just two colossal conglomerates, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, each of which owns a string of neighbouring casinos. Once you own the casino next door, there’s no reason to make each a virtual prison. The Strip has therefore opened out, so that much of its central portion now consists of pedestrian-friendly open-air terraces and pavilions housing bars and restaurants.