In every respect but one, Jackpot (pop. 1,200) belongs more to Idaho than Nevada—a somewhat incongruous introduction to US-93 in the Silver State. Jackpot’s visitors and workers mostly come from Idaho, as do its power and water; even its clocks are set to Idaho time. The one little exception, however, is pure Nevada: border-town gambling. Jackpot was founded in 1954, mere months after Idaho banned slot machines, which didn’t, to be sure, reduce the demand. In fact, Jackpot has thrived, as a pit stop in any of the town’s casinos will attest. Jackpot is compact enough to give long-distance travelers just enough lights, action, and comfort to satisfy more immediate needs and then send them on their way again.
Cactus Petes (775/755-2321, $89 and up) is the 10-story tower you can see for miles. Along with the big casino, it has a great snack bar, a buffet, a sit-down restaurant, and a showroom, and there’s more of the same in the Horseshu across the highway. Both casinos are owned and operated by the same firm, Ameristar, which got its start here in Jackpot in the 1950s.