A journalist's lively appraisal of how savvy businessmen have made Las Vegas a favored destination of recreation-minded families and conventioneers while retaining its status as the Global Village's gaming capital. Drawing mainly from his own reportage, Provost uses Circus Circus Enterprises as the focal point of his inquiry into what makes the desert boomtown tick. An industry archetype, publicly held CCE (whose fiscal 1993 revenues probably topped $1 billion) ranks among Nevada's most consistent winners. Its showcase casino/hotel complexes (Circus Circus, Excalibur, Luxor) cater to a middle-income clientele that, if not in the high-roller class, still leaves a wealth of chips behind. After reviewing the city's raffish, mob-ridden past, the author goes on to examine the commercial forces behind its metamorphosis into a Disney-like resort that offers pleasure seekers high-tech entertainments as well as gambling. He also explains the against-the-odds way the money goes in table games of chance (baccarat, craps, keno, roulette, twenty-one, et al.) and in slot machines. Covered as well are the mechanics of accommodating carriage-trade gamblers, betting systems, scams designed to take the risk out of wagering, the capacity of Las Vegas (the meadows, en Espa§ol) to thrive in the face of proliferating competition, the new breed of promotion- minded operators, and state regulatory agencies that watch over the many-splendored goose that lays the golden eggs. An instructive and engaging take on a roadside attraction with considerable socioeconomic significance.