Bally’s was originally built as the MGM Grand in 1973 by Kirk Kerkorian, then controlling stockholder in MGM Studios, which also built the International Hotel (now the Las Vegas Hilton) four years earlier. In 1980 the hotel was the site of the city’s worst disaster–a fire that swept through the hotel killing 87 people and injuring 700. The hotel reopened nine months later with a new sprinkler system (which previously wasn’t required) and other safety devices. Subsequently the city’s building codes were tightened.
Bally Gaming Corporation, a slot manufacturing company, bought the hotel in 1986, changing the hotel’s name but retaining the Hollywood motif–guest rooms have brass stars on the door, and photos of legendary MGM stars grace the hallways. The 2,832 guest rooms, including 265 suites, are contained in two 26-story towers. Most are primarily decorated in California modern–overstuffed furniture and mushroom coffee tables–and are among the largest in the city.
Expansion at the hotel in the 1990s added Colorful Plaza, a space-age entryway of palm trees, neon columns and cascading fountains, and moving sidewalks that bring customers in from the street.
The step-down casino at Bally’s is the size of a football field, and the tables and machines are well-spaced so players never feel cramped. The race and sports book has tiered, arena-like seating and is apart from the casino in the downstairs shopping arcade. The shopping arcade is home to about two dozen shops, including several art galleries, apparel stores, a Hollywood memorabilia shop and a delightful ice cream parlor.