Casino mogul Don Laughlin has passed away at the age of 92, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the gaming industry. Laughlin, who was born on May 4, 1931, in Owatonna, MN, got his start in the gaming world at a young age, installing slot machines in hunting lodges during his teenage years.
After moving to Las Vegas with his wife and son, Laughlin worked as a bartender and attended dealer school, eventually purchasing his own business, the 101 Club in North Las Vegas. However, he longed for something more and eventually found his vision in the Nevada Mojave Desert along the Colorado River.
In 1966, Laughlin purchased a vacant motel and bar and turned it into the Riverside Resort, which has since grown to host 1,350 hotel rooms, 1,000 slot machines, 23 table games, and numerous other amenities.
Despite facing challenges such as the lack of infrastructure in the area, Laughlin’s “if you build it they will come” attitude eventually paid off, with the Riverside becoming a reality. Laughlin also spearheaded major infrastructure improvements for the area, including the construction of a bridge across the Colorado River and the development of an international airport.
Throughout his career, Laughlin maintained an “old Vegas” feel at the Riverside, and was known for his hands-on approach to casino management. He built genuine connections with his patrons and employees, leaving a lasting impact on the gaming industry.
Today, Laughlin’s namesake town boasts eight casinos and attracts two million visitors each year, with over 1,300 employees working at the Riverside. Laughlin’s legacy is one of innovation, determination, and genuine connection with his patrons, cementing his status as a legendary figure in the gaming world.