August 6, 2022 Poker Gossip, Poker News Lars Liedtke

El Cortez The Oldest Casino in Las Vegas Evacuated Amid Arson Spree

Last week it was an active shooter alarm that caused Vegas casinos to empty in a hurry and this week it was a suspected fire that saw people flee the city’s oldest existing casino, the El Cortez, not far from where a 1980 blaze claimed 85 lives.

The off-strip adult-only venue in the popular off-strip Fremont Entertainment District saw smoke billowing through the casino, leading to fears that a spate of arson attacks in the surrounding area had reached the gambling hotspot itself.

 James Call told KSNV, adding:  

“We were playing dice and it was just a little bit of smoke for a minute or two, and then it escalated very quickly. Dealers locked the tables and quickly rushed everyone out.”

Fortunately for patrons and staff there was no repeat of the chaotic scenes last week when a suspected active shooter rumour spread along the Strip, causing stampedes in several casinos.

That panic saw multiple injuries as players fled the MGM and the Aria, with the final events of the WSOP affected at Paris Bally’s, and Daniel Negreanu having the scars to prove it…

Others were so traumatised by the incidents that they couldn’t face coming back to finish the tournaments they were playing…


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As we reported last week, the shooting rumours were traced back to a disgruntled patron smashing windows at the MGM after being thrown out earlier in the day.

Back at the El Cortez fire incident this week and thankfully there were no reported injuries from clearing the casino, although multiple fire trucks were in attendance…

The fear was that it was a continuation of the multiple arson attacks that have plagued the area in recent weeks, with numerous abandoned residential buildings, warehouses and even a hotel and restaurant being set alight by suspected homeless squatters.

Thankfully firefighters put the smoke at El Cortez down to nothing more than a suspected air conditioning malfunction, but in the current climate fear is running high in the city.

The Route 91 Harvest massacre of 2017, which saw 60 people gunned down outside the Mandalay Bay casino and hundreds more injured is still fresh in people’s memories.

Not so well-remembered, perhaps, but even more deadly, was the blaze that broke out at the MGM Grand in 1980, with 85 people dying in a fire that began in a restaurant, engulfed the resort’s casino, with smoke making its way into hotel tower.

Meanwhile, this week has seen yet another problem hit the downtown area’s gambling parlours, with torrential rain and flooding putting off almost everyone from playing – though not quite everybody it seems…


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