LIFE: Vintage Vegas

LIFE.com presents photos-- many of which never ran in LIFE magazine-- from the mid-1950s, when the high-stakes mecca was in the midst of a building boom that would redefine it forever.

Vegas

Not published in LIFE. Las Vegas, 1955.

Vegas

Not published in LIFE. Las Vegas, 1955. A prop slot machine backstage at the Royal Nevada Hotel and Casino

Vegas

Not published in LIFE. Las Vegas, 1955

Vegas

Idling croupiers (in shirtsleeves) dawdled behind their roulette tables because few customers were placing bets in The Dunes two weeks after opening night.

Vegas

Crap tables at Dunes were tried by Jake Freedman (center), owner of rival Sands club. He lost $10,000 before deciding his luck was off that night.

Vegas

Not published in LIFE. Las Vegas, 1955.