Legendary Nevada Casino Entrepreneur Don Laughlin Passes Away at 92

  • The town of Laughlin in Southern Nevada bears his name
  • He opened the Riverside Resort in 1966 and gradually expanded it
  • Laughlin also helped build a major nearby bridge and the local airport
Riverside Casino sign
Legendry Nevada casino entrepreneur Don Laughlin has passed away at the age of 92. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A visionary

The prominent property developer and resort owner Don Laughlin has died. The 92-year-old passed away on Sunday according to a Facebook post from his Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino, with no cause of death given. He is best known for being the main developer of the river town in Southern Nevada that is named after him. About 100 miles south of Las Vegas, Laughlin is one of the most popular destinations in southern Nevada.

opened the Riverside Resort back in 1966

Laughlin opened the Riverside Resort back in 1966 – the original entrance was a dirt road, making the property unreachable when there was rain. It gradually expanded over the years along with the surrounding town.

The town got its name from the US Postal Service’s operation called “Laughlin Substation” in the casino resort. Laughlin himself wanted to call the community either Casino or Riverside.

From humble beginnings

Don Laughlin grew up on a farm in Minnesota and only spent one year in high school. He was forced by the principal to choose between stopping the running of a punchboard route and a slot machine or leaving the school. As he was earning about $500 per week, he decided to quit school, saying that he was making three times the principal’s salary.

Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino offers more than 1,200 slot machines, many different table games, a poker room, a bingo hall, and a sportsbook.

He made the move to Las Vegas in 1952 and purchased the 101 Club North a couple of years later in North Las Vegas. He sold the facility after a decade and began searching for a new opportunity, which is what led him to found the Riverside Resort.

The growth of a community

The town of Laughlin gets nearly two million visitors each year and is now the home of eight different casino resorts. Don Laughlin helped grow the region by funding and building the Laughlin Bridge that connects Arizona and Nevada, as well as donating land and money to develop the area’s international airport.

He was inducted into the American Gaming Association Gaming Hall of Fame back in 1991 and despite having the opportunities to do so, never had any interest in buying other casinos. He would spend a lot of his time either at the resort or at his cattle ranch, which he traveled to via helicopter.

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