To understand some of early Nevada Gaming, you have to look back at a few things. First, the state of Nevada was founded in 1864. Until 1931, there was a variety of illegal gaming. Freshman Nevada Assemblyman Phil Tobin introduced a bill to make gaming in Nevada legal statewide in 1931. The bill passed and was signed by Governor Fred Balzar.
What is interesting about this law passing is that there were some gaming venues that because of this law that became legal in 1931 after applying for a gaming license. The day prior to this law being signed, they were illegal gaming joints. One of those casinos that were illegal but then became legal after that because of the law was the Bank Club Casino in Reno, Nevada.
Quoting from MuseumofGamingHistory.org, “Bank Club was licensed at 239 North Center St., Reno, after many years of illegal gaming.” The date of that occurring would be March 30th, 1931 which would be 11 days after the bill was signed into law. According to research, the official grand opening of legal gaming there was at the beginning of April.
The history of Bank Club was that after it was opened, it reportedly billed itself as the largest casino in the United States as it was one of the earliest legal gaming operations in the state of Nevada. Depending on how you look at gaming circumstances, some say it was the first legal casino in Nevada, but others have different perspectives based on the history of the state.
What we know for sure is that it was one of the earliest. There were some other gaming outfits that got gaming licenses before the Bank Club including the Northern Club. However, those would not be recognized as traditional casinos today according to some gaming historian discussion research I did online. If we use the worlds recognizable casino, then it would be the Bank Club, but this one is for sure up for discussion. The other early licensed ventures lacked the table game environment we are known to seeing in a casino today that the Bank Club Had.
As far as the casino itself, it was open from 1931 to 1952. One of the legendary matchbooks from the place advertises it as Known The World Over and having one of the finest collections of liquor in America as well.
Below you can find our entire 16 chip lot of Bank Club Casino chips that range from the 1930s through the 1950s. You can purchase them at the link clicking the picture: