Utter the words Sin City, and neon lights, cards, dice, roulette wheels, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll is usually what springs to mind. Commonly associated with the city of Las Vegas, the term predates and has never been exclusively linked with the USA’s most famous, or infamous, gambling city.
The term itself usually refers to either a whole city or an area within a city that has a reputation for catering to adult entertainment, vices, or illegal activities. In the case of the latter, it’s usually tolerance on the community’s part, rather than actively supporting the activities.
Old and New Sin Cities
The term Sin City has been used to describe various cities and other urban areas around the world for decades, if not centuries. Few places have been given the name for only one reason.
While many of them share common so-called vices, they all appear to have offered, or to offer, something unique to residents and visitors alike.
The Northern Hemisphere
In North America, Las Vegas is best known for gambling and bookmaking, prostitution, strip clubs, clubbing, quick and easy marriage and divorce, and the availability of alcohol 24 hours a day.
However, other cities give Vegas more than a run for its money. Also known as Sin City is Atlantic City, with its reputation for gambling, prostitution, strip clubs, clubbing, and drinking; Los Angeles, with its reputation for scams, paparazzi, prostitution, drinking, clubbing, gangs and organised crime, BDSM clubs, and porn industry; and Miami, with its reputation for gangs and organised crime, drug trafficking, prostitution, drinking, political and police corruption, scams, and strip clubs.
Across the Atlantic, some European locations that are or have been known as Sin City include London’s Soho, known for prostitution; Spain’s Ibiza, known for clubbing and drugs; Prague in the Czech Republic, known for clubbing, drinking, drugs, brothels, and prostitution; Amsterdam in the Netherlands, known for cannabis and other drugs, sex shops, sex shows, prostitution, and brothels; and Russia’s Moscow, known for police and political corruption, drugs and alcohol, clubbing, prostitution, strip clubs, gangs, and organized crime.
Asia and the Middle East also has their fair share of places known as Sin City. Thailand has the distinction of two cities known by the epithet; Bangkok and Pattaya are both known for clubbing, drinking, drugs, sex shows, strip clubs, massage parlours, brothels, and prostitution.
Tel Aviv in Israel and Beirut in Lebanon both have a reputation for strip clubs, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, and clubbing. Macau in China, and Angeles City in the Philippines are known for gambling, prostitution, and clubbing. Macau has the additional infamy of being a centre of organized crime.
The Southern Hemisphere
In South America, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Caracas in Venezuela are both known as Sin City; the former for prostitution, alcohol and drugs, clubbing, gangs and organized crime, scams, police and political corruption, and filthy, violent slums known as favelas.
In Australia, Sydney’s Kings Cross online casino Australia claim to the title, and has a reputation for legal and illegal gambling, drugs, strip clubs, brothels, and prostitution, violent, police corruption, gangs, and organized crime.
Vegas at a Glance
Las Vegas, the USA’s famous Sin City, was founded in 1905 and incorporated as a city in 1911.
The term, however does not refer only to the area within city limits, as the famous Vegas Strip, a 7m stretch of road littered with casinos and resorts, is actually in the Clark County communities of Enterprise, Winchester, and Paradise. Vegas was the most populous city established in the USA in the 20th century.