Though much of its original facade is hidden by signs, stone veneer, and metal cornices, the Commercial Hotel houses one of the oldest casinos in the state. The three-story brick structure stands at the corner of 4th and Idaho streets on the site of the Humboldt Lodging House, a onestory frame building with a false front and porch, built in 1869. After J. B. Abel bought the Humboldt in 1893, he rebuilt it, erecting a two-story brick building, the core of which still stands.
The hotel is a simple commercial structure, enlivened by decorative brickwork including quoins around some of the windows. The largest sign, mounted over the corner entrance to the building, displays a giant polar bear standing atop letters that proclaim “Coffee Shop Always Open.” Neon and flashing signs on every side of the hotel attract customers from all over downtown.
The Commercial added a casino soon after Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. Ten years later the hotel became the first in the state to feature famous entertainers to attract customers to its casino. Among the stars who performed there during the 1940s were the Andrews Sisters, Sophie Tucker, and Chico Marx. This tradition of providing entertainment in casinos has continued ever since, taken to its greatest heights in the elaborate shows presented in Las Vegas.