Las Vegas casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan, grandfather of NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brendan Gaughan, passed away Wednesday at age 93.
Mr. Gaughan lived out his final years in an apartment high atop the El Cortez Hotel and Casino – even after selling the property to new owners – and was such an icon on the Las Vegas Strip that the new owners allowed him to remain in the apartment with 24-hour care.
At one time, he controlled an estimated 25 percent of the city’s downtown gaming revenue, and owned all or part of such legendary casinos as the Golden Nugget, Showboat, Gold Spike, Union Plaza, Boulder Club, Las Vegas Club, Western and El Cortez.
“Las Vegas lost a legend today and the El Cortez lost its patriarch in Jackie,” said El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein in a written statement. “His vision for the gaming industry and his presence as a beloved member of the El Cortez family will be felt for years to come.”
|Gaughan in 1965|
His passing drew tributes from giants of the industry and state government.
Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn said of Gaughan, “I believe it would take a month to name all of the friends that Jackie Gaughan had in the state of Nevada. It would take that long to list all of the people from Reno to Las Vegas, from Elko to Laughlin who respected Jackie for his warmth, his business integrity, his affection for his employees and above all, for his happy, positive personality.
"I am one of those people whose life was brightened by a friendship and association with that delightful man.”
Nevada governor Brian Sandoval expressed similar sentiments, saying, “Few people have influenced Las Vegas and Nevada like Jackie Gaughan. He played an important role in the history of Las Vegas, helping shape it into the city we know today. There is no question his incredible legacy will be felt for generations to come.”
GodfatherMotorsports.com expresses our sincere condolences and best wishes to the Gaughan family in their time of loss.