Laughlin is an unincorporated town and census-designated place in Clark County, Nevada, United States, and a port located on the Colorado River. Laughlin is 90 miles south of Las Vegas, located in the far southern tip of Nevada. It is best known for its gaming, entertainment, and water recreation. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,323. The nearby communities of Bullhead City, Arizona; Needles, California; Fort Mohave, Arizona; and Mohave Valley, Arizona, bring the Laughlin area's total population to about 100,000.
The Laughlin Event Center, centrally located on property west of the Laughlin Outlet Mall, offers versatile seating options and configurations. The outdoor event center can seat between 9,300 and 21,000 guests for major concert headline entertainment and special events. It features state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, high-quality molded seating and bleacher seating, VIP Suites and Dream Seats, food and beverage outlets and permanent restroom facilities. Visitors can easily walk from most Laughlin resorts or take complimentary shuttle transportation.
A sliver of the Colorado River Valley where Nevada, California and Arizona meet has been transformed into a fast-growing tourist destination and gambling resort in a few short decades.
Laughlin's current location was established in the 1940's with the South Pointe due to its proximity to Nevada's southern tip. The settlement consisted of a motel and bar that catered to gold and silver miners who dotted the map, and to the many construction workers who built Davis Dam.
In 1964, Don Laughlin, owner of Las Vegas' 101 Club, flew over Laughlin and offered to buy the property. In less than two years the motel and bar, now called the Riverside Resort, was offering all you-can-eat chicken dinners for 98 cents, play on 12 slot machines and two live gaming tables. Guest accommodations were available in four of the motel's eight motel rooms. The Laughlin family lived in the other four rooms.
In 1972, the Riverside Resort added 48 rooms, followed by several additions and in 1986 built the first 14-floor high-rise. A second casino, the Bobcat Club opened in 1967. In 1968 a third casino, the Monte Carlo opened its doors. Across the River, Bullhead City flourished in the glow of the casino light. Shuttle boats transported customers from the Arizona side.
During the 1980s a surge of casino construction exploded in Laughlin. The Colorado Hotel (now the Pioneer), Sam's Town Gold River (now the Laughlin River Lodge) and the Edgewater opened early in the decade. The activity attracted other investors that began the second boom, resulting in the construction of the Colorado Belle, Harrah's Del Rio, Ramada Express (now Tropicana Laughlin) and finally, in 1990, the Flamingo Hilton (now Aquarius). In 1987, Don Laughlin funded and built the Laughlin Bridge at a cost of $3.5 million. He donated the bridge to the states of Nevada and Arizona. The bridge carries 2,000 vehicles daily.
Today there are nine hotel/casinos and one motel in Laughlin providing over 10,000 rooms, 175,000 square feet of meeting space, 60 restaurants, two museums, a 34-lane bowling center, an outlet shopping mall and a variety of boutiques, spas and salons. More than 14,000 casino workers now cross the Colorado by shuttle boat or the Laughlin Bridge each day.The city by the river now attracts nearly 2 million visitors annually who visit Laughlin to gamble, enjoy water sports on the Colorado and attend many top name entertainers and high-profile special events hosted by the destination.
The tiny roadside hamlet of Searchlight is a classic Western boom-and-bust mining town. The town's name is said to have been taken from a remark by founder George F. Colton, who said it would take a searchlight to find gold in the area. Miners hit paydirt in the 1890s, and by 1907 the community was the largest city in Southern Nevada, claiming 5,000 people. The boom lasted until 1916 before the mines played out.
Located 58 miles south of Las Vegas, Searchlight is a natural stop for visitors on their way to Laughlin. A small museum offers insight into the area's past and its most famous early residents ‚ among them Hollywood costume designer Edith Head and film stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow.
Enjoy boating, water skiing, jet skiing and fishing or a refreshing dip in the brisk water. Launch ramp facilities are plentiful along the river, as well as a multitude of watercraft rental services. For a more relaxed pace, take a leisurely, scenic ride or dinner cruise aboard paddlewheel steamship replicas and tour boats while listening to a narrated history of Laughlin.