In 1973, Shelby and Claudine Williams, former owners of the Silver Slipper casino, opened the Holiday Casino, a small casino in front of the Holiday Inn Las Vegas Center Strip.
In 1979, Holiday Inn bought a 40% share of the casino's parent company, Riverboat Inc. By 1982, the hotel had grown to over 1,000 rooms, making it the largest in the chain. Holiday Inn bought out the remaining 60% in 1983.
In 1992, the property was renamed Harrah's.
In 1997, Harrah's completed a renovation intended to make it the company's flagship property, replacing the old riverboat theme with a Mardi Gras/Carnaval motif. They extended the 35 story tower by adding 986 rooms. Included in the renovations were six 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) 23-karat gold-leaf sculptures. Built from steel and glass reinforced polyester resin, the sculptures stand 32 ft (9.8 m) high and wear size 43 shoes.