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Las Vegas is more than just pretty lights and non-stop action. Sin City has a darker side, filled with ghosts and spirits and things that go bump in the night. It's a place where fortunes are made, but also a place where a gamble doesn't always pay off. The hotels along the Las Vegas Strip are home to more than high rollers and sightseers out to have a good time. Most are home to a ghost or two as well. And at least one contains far more than that.
Our journey begins in a normal Las Vegas hotel and casino. Bally's Las Vegas may not be the most glamorous place on the Strip, certainly not on par with Mandalay Bay or the Wynn, but it's a nice, clean place to lay your head at night, or try your hand at blackjack on the casino floor. But Bally's hasn't always been Bally's. Until 1980, it was the MGM Grand. On the morning of November 21st, it was business as usual.
Restaurants were serving breakfast, the early morning gamblers were making their way into the casino and the late night partiers were taking their hangovers up to bed. Unbeknownst to them all, their hotel was already on fire. Everything that could have gone wrong at that point, did. The MGM Grand had no sprinkler system, and the Clark County Fire Department's ladders weren't long enough to reach to the upper floors of the high rise. More than 80 people died that morning, most from smoke inhalation, some from burns, and at least one unlucky individual from severe trauma caused by jumping out a window to escape the flames.
Since the fire damage was mainly interior, the building was simply gutted, repaired and sold. The MGM Grand rebuilt in it's current location near the south end of the Strip, the hotel was renamed Bally's, and life, for everyone, went on. Well…almost everyone. Since Bally's opened in 1985, guests have reported disturbing events taking place, both in the hotel portion of the building as well as on the casino floor. Many people smell the acrid odor of smoke on the upper guest room floors, but no fire can ever be found.
Others hear screams from the stairwell where many people perished, due to malfunctioning fire doors. A certain bank of mr lucky slot machine machines in the casino seem to be haunted by an old woman. At first glace, those who have seen her ghost assume the smoke is coming from the cigarette she is holding, but upon closer inspection, the back of her dress is aflame. She sits calmly on nights when the casino is not crowded, playing two machines at once, and will fade away if you try to approach.
The voice of a small boy can sometimes be heard in a 7th floor corridor, crying out desperately for his mother. Eventually, his cries will taper off into coughing, then choking, and then silence. Did he perhaps get separated from his mother on that fateful day in 1980, and perish without ever returning to her embrace? If so, his sad spirit will not rest until he finds her. A dejected looking elderly couple frequent the far end of one corridor.
The man has his arm around the woman's slumped shoulders, and appears to be attempting to console her. They are only ever seen from the back, and when they reach the end of the hallway, they seem to melt into the wall and disappear. Did they lose a loved one in the fire, or were they somehow trapped and forced to face the realization that death was coming for them? Are we seeing their final moments play out in some sort of supernatural time loop?
If there is any comfort in their tired spirits, it is that they at least seem to have gone on together. Most hotel and casino employees are tight-lipped about the supposed haunting of Bally's. They worry that their resident ghosts may affect profit margins. A few of the old-timers are willing to talk, though, and their stories are chilling indeed. Ask around - it can't hurt. And when you ride the elevator up to your room at night, make sure to lock your door, close your curtains, and spare a thought for those who gambled with their lives…and lost.