Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Ethnic Studies

First Committee Member

William Jankowiak

Number of Pages



This thesis supposes that people gambling in Las Vegas are engaged in religious-like and transformative experiences, ideas, and behaviors. Those which are religious-like are categorized into separate groups. These separate groups are Magic, Charms and Jinxes, Ritual, Altered-States of Consciousness, and Divining each having a subsequent section in my thesis. The transformative experiences, ideas, and behaviors are like-wise categorized into separate groups. These separate groups and subsequent sections are Adults at Play, Fantasy, Theming, and Rebellion. People who play slot machines are studied and to them is applied the theory developed by Luhrmann in the book Persuasions of the Witches Craft that people in modern Britain who engage in witchcraft do so in order to achieving a childlike enchantment of adulthood; Findings are that there are indeed similarities between Luhrmann's British witches and gamblers in Las Vegas, and that they share certain elements and motives. Las Vegas style gambling evokes strong elements of a return to youthful world views. Here adults are encouraged to play games, watch magic shows, eat as much of whatever they want, indulge in sensory stimulation without the burden of obligation, role play, and ultimately suspend their disbelief as they slip into a fantasy world which would place them in a state of being more akin to a time of youthful optimism, when the world was mysterious and magical, pre-rational, care-free and innocent.


Las Vegas; Nevada; Phenomenon; Vegas

Controlled Subject

Ethnology; Recreation

File Format


File Size

2549.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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