Las Vegas, which means 'the meadows' in Spanish, got its name in the 1800s courtesy of its abundant greenery, supported by a plentiful supply of artesian spring water. Hyped as 'sin city' and 'the entertainment capital of the world', Las Vegas is all luxury hotels, huge, ostentatious casinos and over-the-top nightclubs, an image now being exported wholesale to Macau. But, believe it or not, gambling was once illegal in the US city, with the state of Nevada becoming the last in the union to pass a strict anti-gambling law, which took effect on October 1, 1910. Obviously, the law didn't stick and before long, illegal, underground gambling dens were flourishing. Just over two decades on from the imposition of the ban, Nevada became the first state to reverse the law and from March 19, 1931, gambling was once again legal. The first gambling licence was issued to the Northern Club, at 15E Fremont Street, that same year. Soon, other casinos started to appear on Fremont Street - named after American explorer John C. Fremont - such as the Las Vegas Club and the Apache Hotel. At age 101, Fremont Street is as old as Las Vegas itself. The thoroughfare was the location for a number of firsts: it was the site of Nevada's first licensed gambling premises, it was the city's first paved street and it boasted its first traffic light. The street soon got the nickname 'Glitter Gulch' thanks to its bright lights, which were powered by electricity from the nearby Hoover Dam. Although the fortunes of Las Vegas dimmed as the expansion of the railways reduced its importance, the 1936 completion of the Hoover Dam gave a fillip to tourism in the area. In the post-war frenzy of 1945, lavishly decorated resort hotels and casinos sprouted all over the city and tourism and entertainment took over as its largest sources of income. In the years that followed, investment continued to pour into the hotel and casino industry. Gambling shed (some of) its sleazy associations as the term was elided to become 'gaming' and it became a legitimate business, making the renowned Strip what it is today. Because of lenient state laws, Las Vegas also gained popularity as a wedding site. There is no legal waiting period and neither residency nor blood tests are required to get married in Nevada. Last year, more than 122,000 people tied the knot at the numerous wedding chapels that line the Strip and operate around the clock. Even celebrities are seduced by the institution of the Vegas wedding. Pop star Britney Spears and her childhood friend Jason Alexander got hitched at the Little White Wedding Chapel in January 2004. Their marriage lasted 55 hours. But to save money, the Las Vegas Marriage Bureau decided that, as of late last month, it would no longer stay open to issue licences between midnight and 8am. Although love-struck couples can still wed after midnight, they have to wait until morning to be legally recognised as such - by which time, they could be planning the divorce.