Las Vegas Casino Kingpin and Gambling Hall of Famer Stan Mallin Passes Away at 98

  • Wife Sandy Mallin said Stan passed away on the evening of September 11
  • A key moment in Mallin’s life was meeting Jay Sarno at Missouri University
  • Mallin and Sarno revolutionized Vegas by opening Caesars Palace in 1966
  • The pair took their vision further by opening Circus Circus in 1968
  • The funeral service for Mallin is on September 14 at Temple Beth Sholom
facade of the Circus Circus casino property in Las Vegas
Stan Mallin, the revolutionary Las Vegas casino developer who opened Circus Circus (pictured above) in 1968, has died aged 98. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A casino visionary

Visionary Las Vegas casino developer and 2019 Gaming Hall of Fame inductee Stanley ‘Stan’ Andrew Mallin has died aged 98.

Mallin’s wife Sandra ‘Sandy’ gave the evening of September 11 as the time of her husband’s passing. The Sandra and Stanley Mallin Early Childhood Center, founded by the eponymous couple in 2000, took to Facebook on Sunday to announce the passing of its “dear friend”:

A key moment in the life of the Kansas City-born Mallin was when he met longtime business partner Jay Sarno while the pair were attending the University of Missouri. Opening Caesars Palace in 1966 at a cost of $24m, Mallin and Sarno started “the trend of themed casinos in Las Vegas”, according to the American Gaming Association (ASA).

Mallin and Sarno started “the trend of themed casinos in Las Vegas”

In a 1999 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mallin said he and Sarno “hit lightning in a bottle with Caesars […] It took right off.” What Mallin called “the nicest thing in Las Vegas and maybe in the country” — a revolutionary fantasy world where guests could gamble while feeling like a Caesar or a Cleopatra — sold in 1969 for $60m.

Circus Circus a childhood fantasy

In 1968, Mallin and Sarno gave their visionary fantasy full flight with the opening of Circus Circus on The Strip. When indicting Mallin to the Gambling Hall of Fame in 2019, the AGA said he and Sarno “introduced the concept of experiential casino properties” with Circus Circus.

Circus Circus was the first family-oriented casino in Sin City. The property, which did not originally include a hotel, had a casino on the first floor and carnival games for kids on the second. Trained monkeys paid out jackpot winnings and an elephant named Tanya cranked slot machine handles and tossed dice with her trunk. The LVRJ reported that the resort embodied “everybody’s childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus.”

The LRVJ on September 12 cited the former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman as saying that Mallin and Sarno “were very much responsible for Las Vegas being what it is today.”

Gambling first

In a transcript from a 2015 oral interview with Mallin and his wife for the University of Las Vegas digital collections, the casino kingpin highlighted the changes he had seen in Sin City.

Everything was catered to the gambling”

“If you were a player in the hotels, they knew you. The food was very well done but inexpensive. Everything was catered to the gambling,” Mallin reminisced. He observed that the contemporary Vegas experience is “not as personalized as it used to be.”

According to Dignity Memorial, the funeral service for Mallin starts at 11:00am on September 14 at Temple Beth Sholom, Las Vegas. A committal service will take place on the same day at King David Cemetery, also in Las Vegas.