One of the most famous gambling personalities of the past few decades has past away. Jackie Gaughan, who lived to the age of 93, was a Las Vegas gambling legend, and left an undeniable imprint on modern gambling. There was a time when Gaughan was in control of more than a quarter of the gambling that took place in Downton Las Vegas.
Gaughan was always an ambitious man, and it took him many years to exert his influence over Las Vegas. Little by little, he took over gambling operations at various casinos, until he was one of the biggest players in the city.
Recent years were far quieter for Gaughan, and he had been suffering from dementia for some time. He would live at the hotel above El Cortez, and was often seen visiting the casinos and playing a hand or two of poker. Respect for Gaughan is very high in Vegas. He was described as the “last king left in the old Vegas deck” by the Las Vegas Review in 2009.
He purchased the El Cortez casino in 1963, and helped build it into one of the primary gambling spots in the city. The Governer of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, had this to say on the matter:
“Few people have influenced Las Vegas like Jackie Gaughan. He played an important role in the history of Vegas, helping shape it into the city we know today. There is no question his legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
The current owner of the El Cortez casino, Kenny Epstein, also commented on Gaughan’s passing:
“Las Vegas lost a legend today and the our casino lost its patriarch in Jack. But his vision for the gaming industry and his presence as a member of the El Cortez family will be felt for many years.”
Gaughan leaves behind his son, Michael Gaughan, who is the owner of South Point Casino. “He lived a full and happy life,” said Michael after his father’s passing.
For an in depth look at Jackie Gaughan and the rise of the El Cortez casino, click here.