Stratosphere, the famous Las Vegas landmark that looks like a mix between the CN Tower and the Seattle Space Needle, stands 1,149 feet over Las Vegas Boulevard. It’s about three miles north of what is considered the heart of The Strip.

The brainchild of prominent Vegas developer Bob Stupak, the Stratosphere was born around 1990. Stupak was the owner of Vegas World and a quintessential Vegas character, philanthropist, aspiring politician, and thrill seeker. Issues during construction and Stupak’s serious motorcycle accident delayed its opening, but ultimately Stratosphere opened its doors in April 1996. Now owned by American Casino and Entertainment Properties (ACEP), the Stratosphere has a sister property in Laughlin and the Arizona Charlie’s locations around Las Vegas.


The tallest structure in Las Vegas houses the Top of the World Restaurant and 107 Lounge. Enjoy award-winning cuisine and wine with a unique 360degree view.

Looking for thrills at the highest elevation on The Strip? Experience screams and butterflies on Big Shot, Insanity, Sky Jump, and X-Scream. Purchase tickets in advance (mainly for Sky Jump) online, by phone, or at the retail level of the tower. Ask about discounts for hotel guests, locals, groups, or VIP players card holders. With many Las Vegas activities restricted to adults 21 and up, the rides on top of Stratosphere are suitable for teenagers, and Big Shot allows children at least four feet tall to ride.

The Stratosphere is a great place for reasonably priced musical entertainment and comedy. Live comedy in the Tower Shops runs nightly and a family-friendly magic show (with an escape and evasion theme) is held Thursday through Saturday at 5 p.m. Rock and pop music aficionados should check out MJ Live, World’s Greatest Rock Show Tribute Concert, and the occasional evening concert at Elation Pool.

While the Stratosphere has many more family-friendly activities and amenities, these certainly do not take away from the 80,000-square-foot casino. A wide range of slot denominations, from penny to $25, may not be unique to the Stratosphere, but its $5 single and double deck blackjack and $5 craps with 10x odds are rare finds on The Strip. As is unfortunately the standard now in Las Vegas, the Stratosphere’s single deck blackjack (but not the double) pays 6:5 as opposed to the traditional 3:2 on naturals.


The Stratosphere initiated interest in the regulated, real-money online gambling world several years ago and deserves credit for launching a platform months before larger Las Vegas casinos did.  

Named after its loyalty rewards program, AcePlay Poker launched in 2012, signing local poker hero Eli Elezra as a sponsored pro. The free-to-play online poker infrastructure offered real rewards and prizes all with the hopes that the model would be launch-ready when Nevada legalized online poker.

AcePlay software is developed by Ongame, which makes poker software for several real-money online poker sites in Europe and Canada. While AcePlay did receive license to operate real-money online poker, it never took off in that regard.  

Today, AcePlay poker is part of AcePlay Casino — a free-to-join platform where players of legal gambling age purchase credits (with real money). These credits are not transferrable to cash; however, AcePlay sometimes runs promotional prize giveaways.  

Players at will earn 10 percent of their real-money purchases for virtual credits back in comp dollars. Also, new signees who link their AcePlay account to the online casino receive 10,000 virtual credits. In addition to poker, the online casino offers slots, table games, bingo, and the passive slot tournament.


The AcePlay loyalty card network is subpar compared to M Life or Total Rewards, yet the program has much to offer online and through Aquarius Laughlin, Arizona Charlie’s (multiple locations), and the Stratosphere.  

AcePlay membership is valuable, essential even, for anyone who visits an AcePlay property or plays in the virtual money online casino. Members earn 25 percent off at buffets and 10 percent off at most restaurants at AcePlay properties. Through play (brick-and-mortar or through the purchase of virtual credits), card holders accumulate comp dollars, which can be used toward hotel, dining, and entertainment expenses.

Players start out with the Blue card, but with a little play are elevated to Orange. Regulars and higher stakes gamblers have the chance to earn a Green or Red card and receive a dedicated casino host and earn 3x or 4x points (respectively) every day. Signing up for an AcePlay card should be one of the first things every first-time visiting adult (21+) does at any of the AcePlay properties.