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sabato 15 marzo 2014

Las Vegas casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan dies at 93

LAS VEGAS -- Legendary casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan never wanted to leave downtown Las Vegas.

His son, South Point owner Michael Gaughan, even offered to build his father a penthouse apartment atop one of the south-Strip resort’s hotel towers. He wouldn’t budge.

The elder Gaughan, who once controlled 25 percent of the downtown gaming market and owned portions of some of the city’s most historic casinos, died Wednesday at age 93 while in hospice care.

He spent his last years in the place he loved: an apartment atop the El Cortez Hotel & Casino, overlooking the city he adored.

“Downtown is where Jackie belonged,” Michael Gaughan said Wednesday of his father. The elder Gaughan was moved to hospice late Monday. On Tuesday he was visited by his seven grandchildren and most of his eight great-grandchildren.

“He lived a full life,” Michael Gaughan said. “He may have been the most licensed person in the history of the state. He had a great sense of humor. All his life, Jackie Gaughan believed in handshake deals and that a person’s word was his bond.”

The El Cortez was the last piece of Jackie Gaughan’s empire that he parted with in 2008. Until a few years ago, he appeared in the hotel’s advertising campaigns. His wife, Roberta, who died in 1996, never wanted to live anywhere else, either.

“He told me that’s where he wanted to stay,” his son said.

The Epstein family — longtime friends and business associates of Jackie Gaughan — let him remain in the apartment and provided him with 24-hour care.

“Las Vegas lost a legend today and the El Cortez lost its patriarch in Jackie,” El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein said in a statement. “But his vision for the gaming industry and his presence as a beloved member of the El Cortez family will be felt for years to come.”

Michael Gaughan said the Epstein family “took tremendous care of dad.” He said longtime El Cortez employees, some of whom date back to when Jackie Gaughan operated the casino, enjoyed seeing the gaming legend in the building.


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