El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas to Become Adults-Only Hotel-Casino

Posted on: March 17, 2022, 07:42h. 

Last updated on: March 17, 2022, 11:35h.

El Cortez, Las Vegas’ oldest existing casino, is going adults-only. While much of the Las Vegas casino market has become distinctly family friendly these days, this downtown casino is going back to its roots: a traditional, old school Las Vegas gambling house. And that means no kids running around spoiling all the grown-up fun.

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El Cortez, pictured, offers a slice of vintage Las Vegas a block from the Fremont Street experience, and soon it’ll be a no-kiddie zone. (Image: Visit Las Vegas)

Casino officials said Wednesday that from April 1, El Cortez would transition to a 21-and-older resort. This will happen in two phases. From next month, all guests booking hotel rooms will have to be 21 years of age or older, with valid state-issued identification.

Phase two of the policy will include age verification checks at every entrance. The entire property, including all food and beverage outlets, will be off-limits to under 21s.


‘Stepping Back in Time’

“This transition comes after careful consideration and decades of trying to accommodate minors in a property that is focused primarily on gaming and popular casino bars,” said Adam Wiesberg, El Cortez’s general manager in a news release.

While Las Vegas has grown and adapted to cater to all demographics, El Cortez remains a traditional gambling house with great gaming odds and an indescribable feeling of stepping back in time,” continues Wiesberg. “El Cortez is the spot where adults have gathered to enjoy a cocktail or two and try their luck in the casino for over 80 years.”

Situated on East Fremont Street, a block away from the Fremont Street Experience, El Cortez first opened its doors to gamblers on November 7, 1941.

In Las Vegas, casinos generally have a shelf life of a few decades before they are imploded in the name of progress and reinvention. So, it’s little wonder the property is the only one in the city to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.


Mobbed Up History


El Cortez was so successful in its first few years that the Mob moved in. A consortium of gangsters, including Bugsy Seigel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum, and Kid Cann, bought the property in 1945.


In 1963, it was purchased by casino owner and Las Vegas personality Jackie Gaughan, who lived in the penthouse until his death in 2014. Today, the property is owned by gaming industry veteran Kenny Epstein.


El Cortez celebrated its 80th birthday last year with a makeover that included a $25 million remodeling of the 200-room tower, a redesigned casino floor, and a revamped high-limit room.


It’s the second downtown casino to buck the trend with an over-21s policy, following after Derek Steven’s Circa, which opened in October 2020.