Photo Exhibit Captures Inside View of Reno Casinos in '70s, '80s

Jan 16, 2016

The Nevada Historical Society has a new exhibit featuring photographs taken inside Reno casinos during the 1970s and '80s. Reno Public Radio's Danna O'Connor has the details. 

The exhibit is called “Black and White Risk” and the photos are unusual in that photography is banned in Nevada casinos.  The photographer is Jan Aphelin who started working in casinos in the early 1960’s and began secretly taking photos almost immediately.

"Yeah, I walked around with my black-and-white Minolta, hanging around my neck," Aphelin recalls. "You know people look but they don’t always see. It’s amazing how they miss a lot and that’s how I actually got away with it. They didn’t see me taking those pictures. And if they did, and I got caught, I got told about it and escorted out. Yeah, I walked around; I wait for the moment: boom.”

The photos are a candid look at Nevada’s gambling culture, telling the story of both the gamblers and Aphelin’s co-workers.

"I don’t think they get a lot of respect from the public," Aphelin says. "They’re labeled, you know, with names that aren’t necessary. The people I worked with for years are just hard working people. It’s a factory! We checked in, put on uniforms, time clock, check out--it’s a factory."  

The exhibit “Black and White Risk” will be at the Nevada Historical Society on the UNR campus through April.