Don Laughlin, the actual property developer and resort proprietor who created the Southern Nevada river city about 100 miles south of Las Vegas that bears his title, has died.
Laughlin, born in 1931, died at 92 years outdated on Sunday, in line with a Facebook post from Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Lodge & On line casino. The submit didn’t share his reason for loss of life.
A 2016 Las Vegas Evaluation-Journal story famous that Laughlin, then 85, continued to work 14-hour days at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort, the on line casino he opened in 1966 that began all of it. Laughlin was celebrating the resort’s fiftieth anniversary on the time.
“After we got here right here there was a dust street in right here and also you needed to are available by means of the dam,” Laughlin recalled. “If it rained, you couldn’t get right here.”
The city’s title, he remembered, got here by means of the U.S. Postal Service, which in 1968 dubbed its operation on the resort “Laughlin substation,” ultimately prompting using “Laughlin” to additionally describe the world across the resort.
Education reduce quick
Laughlin was born in Owatonna, Minnesota, and grew up on a farm simply exterior of city.
“I went to a rustic college the place all eight grades had been in a single room,” he informed the Evaluation-Journal in 1999. “I should have graduated from there about 1946, the one college I ever graduated from.”
He attended highschool for a 12 months and, as a young person, ran a slot machine and punchboard route at a time when, he informed the Evaluation-Journal, enforcement of playing legal guidelines was comparatively lax.
When Laughlin was within the ninth grade, his principal informed him that he’d both have to finish the route or depart college. Laughlin was making about $500 per week, and felt that his alternative was clear.
“I mentioned, ‘I’m making 3 times what you might be, so I’m out the door,’” Laughlin informed the Evaluation-Journal.
Laughlin moved to Las Vegas in 1952, working as a waiter in the course of the day and attending vendor college at evening. In 1954, he purchased the 101 Membership in North Las Vegas, in line with a bio on the Riverside Resort’s website.
After promoting the 101 Membership in 1964, Laughlin, trying to find a brand new alternative, discovered an empty eight–room bar and motel alongside the Colorado River south of Las Vegas, throughout the river from Bullhead Metropolis, Arizona.
In 1966, he opened the Riverside Resort, whose sights included, in line with the resort’s web site, all-you-can-eat rooster dinners for 98 cents, a dozen slot machines and two gaming tables.
Due to Laughlin’s imaginative and prescient, Laughlin, situated on the decrease Colorado River south of Las Vegas and alongside the Nevada-Arizona border, has turn into a well-liked various to, or getaway from, Las Vegas, drawing nearly 2 million guests yearly, in line with the Las Vegas Conference and Guests Authority.
Throughout the Riverside’s early years, Laughlin – who constructed an airstrip on his property – would fly often into North Las Vegas to acquire foods and drinks for his resort.
“I used to be a bit apprehensive about leaving Vegas, as a result of every part’s accessible there that you simply want for provides to function a on line casino,” he informed the Evaluation-Journal in 2013. “Out right here, we needed to haul every part within the first 5 years.”
Laughlin for all times
Right now, Laughlin is the house of eight casino-resorts. In 1986, Laughlin funded and constructed the Laughlin Bridge, which spans the Colorado River and connects Nevada and Arizona. In 1991, he donated land and funding for Laughlin/Bullhead Metropolis Worldwide Airport.
At his resort, Laughlin was identified for making a congenial, vintage-Vegas vibe. Laughlin would stroll by the on line casino to greet company, and fortunate gamers even might need been invited to take a helicopter trip with Laughlin on the controls. Laughlin informed the Evaluation-Journal in 2016 that he had logged 12,000 hours within the cockpit earlier than giving up his license the earlier 12 months.
Laughlin additionally earned a repute for being simply as attentive to his staff. He would greet staff whereas strolling by the on line casino and each August threw an organization picnic for them.
Laughlin’s honors included induction into the American Gaming Affiliation Gaming Corridor of Fame in 1991. He informed the Evaluation-Journal in 2013 that he had turned down gives through the years to purchase different casinos and that he had little interest in increasing his enterprise to different locations.
In 2013, then-Laughlin city supervisor Jackie Brady informed the Evaluation-Journal that Laughlin’s longevity set him other than many different resort homeowners.
“I feel it’s a stage of dedication that’s actually noticeable,” she mentioned. “He lives right here. He owns property and his enterprise is right here, so he has an actual stake in how nicely this city prospers. He’s not simply a part of a company the place he could depart in three years or 4 years. … One factor about Don Laughlin is he’s going to remain right here.”
“I’m very comfortable once I’m working. I wouldn’t do nicely in a rocking chair,” he mentioned in 2013.
Laughlin was preceded in loss of life by his spouse, Betty Laughlin, whom he married in 1953. She died in January 2022 at age 89.