Even if you’re not an avid gambler, it’s hard not to be awed by some of the casinos around the world. These luxury resorts have become iconic for their massive scale, stunning designs, or other unique attractions. If you’re interested in learning more about one of these casinos, you’re in luck. 


Today, we’ll look at one of the most famous casinos in Sin City, the Bellagio. We’ll look at its rich history, lavish features, and appearances in popular culture. 


The Beginning of the Bellagio


The Bellagio first opened its doors on October 15, 1998. Inspired by and named after a small lake town in Northern Italy, the idea for the Bellagio came directly from Steve Wynn, the head of Mirage Resorts at the time. 


He wanted it to replace the Dunes, one of Vegas’ oldest luxury casinos, purchased by Wynn for $75 million in 1993. The Dunes was demolished in 1993 and construction on the Bellagio began. It became the most expensive building in the world at the time with a cost of $1.6 billion.


The opening ceremony was similarly lavish, reportedly costing about $88 million. At 11 p.m., Wynn delivered a 40-minute speech, followed by an aquatic show from Cirque du Soleil. By 1 am, the event had gathered about 15,000 people, including celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Michael Jordan, and George Lucas.


Within the first day, the Bellagio had over 80,000 visitors. It had the usual features of high-end Vegas resorts, including 3,005 hotel rooms, a casino, and multiple chic restaurants and stores. 


It also had a few never-before-seen features like the main attraction: an 8.5-acre man-made lake. That lake was home to a water show named “The Fountains of Bellagio,” and it remains one of the most iconic parts of the resort.

The Fountain


From 1998 to 2010, the Bellagio was home to the largest fountains in the world. While its fountains have since lost that record, they have not lost their splendor. The fountains combine light, water, and music to create some of the most amazing performances. 


While primarily meant to be viewed from the Bellagio, the fountains are visible from many different areas on the Las Vegas Strip. 


The iconic aquatic shows are handled by Cirque du Soleil. They’re scheduled for every 30 minutes in the afternoon and every 15 minutes after 8 pm. Fun fact, the hotel tower’s lights reflect the show’s theme about two minutes before it starts.

The Bellagio Conservatory


Another one of the resort’s big attractions is the Bellagio botanical gardens and conservatory which houses a host of exotic flowers. 


Styled by the resorts’ own horticulture teams, the gardens are 14,000 square feet of visual bliss. Kinetic sculptures are mixed with live flowers to create displays that change with the season. The current Spring theme is a Garden of Love, consisting of 11,541 fresh plants and flowers.

The gardens and the rest of the hotel’s interior were designed by Roger Thomas, the award-winning head of design for Wynn Design & Development. 


The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art


The Bellagio’s art gallery has seen a few changes throughout the years. Initially, it was home to Steve Wynn’s personal art collection. After MGM acquired the Bellagio in 2000, the gallery was updated to display artwork from around the world. 


The Bellagio Fine Art Gallery now displays exhibitions featuring a compilation of works from renowned artists. The artworks are received on loan from various museums and private collections. Past exhibits include “Picasso: Creatures and Creativity,” “Fabergé Revealed,” “Painting Women: Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,” and “Warhol Out West.”

Bobby’s Room


Within the gigantic 156,000-square-foot casino, one small room is revered within the poker community. “Bobby’s Room” is an invite-only poker room with a mix of poker variants at ludicrously high stakes. Its regulars include some of the biggest names in the poker scene, like Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, and more. 


The pot limit and no-limit games in the room are capped, so players can’t lose more than $100,000 in a single hand. Typical blinds are around $800/$1,600 for fixed-limit games, but they’ve been known to go all the way up to $4,000/$8,000.


If you’ve heard about “Bobby’s Room”, which was originally named after Bobby Baldwin, a professional poker player and former president of the Bellagio. It was renamed a few years after Baldwin left his position at MGM in 2018 and is now known as the “Legends Room”.


The Bellagio in Pop Culture


Finally, the Bellagio has been featured in a lot of mainstream media. Its fountains have been the backdrop for music videos like Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” and have been featured in a variety of movies. They’ve been in the action-thriller Jason Bourne (2016), the disaster-comedy Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016), and in the kid’s animated superhero film Bolt (2008).

However, the most famous depiction of the Bellagio was in the 2001 box office giant Ocean’s Eleven. The Bellagio is at the center of the movie, while a group of thieves conducting a heist. The movie’s antagonist is also loosely based on Steve Wynn, sharing his art collection and managing the same casinos.