An ode to Fremont StreetBy Nick Sortal, CDC Gaming ReportsOctober 5, 2017 at 8:34 amI was raised in a town of approximately 10,000 in southern Illinois. We had one high school, which drew from not only my town but from neighboring communities with populations of 50 to 500. Growing up, I thought of my town as being a large metropolis. I’ve learned more about the world since then.But when I visited Las Vegas this week, and my stay was booked near Fremont Street, I had a flashback. It felt like home. Yes, some of the buildings located a few blocks from the center of action were boarded up. But as I checked into the El Cortez Hotel & Casino, I felt like these were my people.A visit to Youtube, where I found country singer Nikki Lane’s video, shot this year at El Cortez, made the feeling even stronger. Lane included several “Viva Las Vegas” shouts during her song, which was titled “Jackpot” and carried the tagline of “I hit the number, it was always you.”From the hotel, I headed to Fremont Street, which I argue is the commoner’s answer to Times Square of New York City. Exhibit one: the eastern landmark, The Heart Attack Grill.GUESTS OVER 350 POUNDS EAT FREE! the electronic billboard read. Patrons must wear hospital gowns, no diet drinks are served, and it’s cash only.On Sunday evening, my co-worker Aaron Stanley and I watch as zipliners glided down from one end of the covered Fremont Street Experience to the other. We snap photos of the street acts, again prompting comparisons to the performers working for tips near Times Square. But in this case, the five-block portion formerly known as Glitter Gulch was revamped in 1994, when officials closed off the road to traffic, encouraging one very large street party. It’s kind of like the Italian festival held every year in my hometown, except with slots and blackjack.A woman – whoops, that’s really a man – in a white skirt shakes her/his behind for onlookers. Skimpily clad girls that may or may not be 21 escort each other around via a leash, with paint in the place where bras would normally be. They have just a slight jiggle in their steps.We come across two buff, conveniently shirtless men, available for a photo op. They’re acting as an appetizer for the Chippendale Experience, just inside.Our heads are on a swivel as we duck under the iconic Vegas Vic, the unofficial “Welcome to Vegas” sign that debuted in 1951.The casinos themselves are far different from the skyscrapers along the Las Vegas Strip, and not only because most boast blackjack tables for only a $5 minimum bet. Drink machines offer frozen concoctions of all kinds as we walk by. Inside The D Hotel, the blackjack dealers wear red outfits reminiscent of flappers. Those not pitching cards stand on top of tables, shaking what the Good Lord gave them.Back outside, an Elvis impersonator gives us a version of Travis Tritt’s “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” at an outdoor stage that regularly offers free music, even more enjoyable because of the fresh air. With no seating nearby, people are less restricted; plenty of them sway or shake.Thinking about all this, I note that modern-day casino experts often wax lyrical about “integrated resorts,” properties that have everything you want, presented in a manner where one attraction flows into another.I’d say that Las Vegas already has that, on Fremont Street, all watched over by Vegas Vic.