Thursday, Oct. 17, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Si Redd, patriarch of the world's largest slot-machine company and founder of the Oasis Resort Hotel & Casino in Mesquite, is finally slowing his pace.
One of the most beloved and respected innovators in gaming, the 85-year-old Redd is turning control of the Oasis over to his son-in-law, Alan Green.
Green was named president and sole director of the Oasis, while Redd's daughters Sherry Green of Mesquite and Vinnie Copeland of Boston were named trustees of the William S. Redd Family Trust, which owns the property.
"We think of this as a new beginning for not only the members of Si's family who are taking over, but also for the Oasis itself," Green said. "We are really committed to continuing the tradition and appear to be on the right track. Mesquite and the Oasis in particular are in for a bright tomorrow."
Redd said he would spend more time fishing and pursuing other leisure activities. But those who know the indefatigable executive are certain he'll keep a watchful eye on operations as he enjoys his well-earned retirement.
Redd settled in Nevada in 1967 and by the mid-1970s decided to leave his position as president of Bally Distributing Co., which had a concept for video poker gathering dust on the shelves, according to industry observer Phil Hevener.
"He was negotiating his separation package and said he'd turn over the distributorship if they'd let him have video poker," said Hevener, co-owner of Las Vegas Style magazine. "We all know what happened after that."
What happened was that Redd and his wife Marilyn built their own slot-manufacturing company, Sircoma, which he later renamed International Game Technology. In less than 10 years, IGT became the dominant force in slot and video-poker manufacturing, eventually capturing 75 percent of the U.S. gaming-machine market through such innovative concepts as multicoin machines and three pay lines.
The Redds later sold IGT and donated millions of dollars to UNLV and various charitable organizations. Unable to fade quietly into retirement, Si Redd founded the golf-and-gaming oriented Oasis Resort in Mesquite.
"His business influence and his dedication to civic responsibility have placed Redd at the pinnacle of society," Gov. Bob Miller said recently. "His entrepreneurial spirit and enterprising skills have made him a leader in the business community."
"Si has been a pioneer in both the gaming industry as well as Las Vegas and I wish him the best in his retirement," said William Bennett, the Sahara hotel-casino owner and former Circus Circus chairman who has known Redd since the mid-1960s.
"Si is simply one of this industry's true 24-carat characters," Hevener said. "He recognized that video poker was an idea that could become big and proceeded to do something with it.
"One of his strengths was his instinctive ability, like Benny Binion's, to grab people by the heart. I've often tried to condense into a few words the genius of people like Benny and Si.
"The reason they were so much alike was an instinctive understanding of what people are looking for when they gamble.
"Si's two biggest strengths were his gambling instincts and his people skills," Hevener said. "Some people talk about the gambling business, but they don't really understand it. Si does.
"He knew long before most other people what would work in the slot business, which is to give people a fair chance to win money. The more gamble you give them, the more they'll play."
Vern Holmes, director of slot-machine development for Station Casinos Inc., is a long-time Si Redd fan.
"Si was the smartest route operator in the industry," Holmes said. "In my opinion, he probably changed the industry more than anybody. He designed products he knew people would play.
"He'd give you that poor old dirt farmer routine, but in contract negotiations he was just one click away from being an expert lawyer and expert accountant.
"For all the money he has, Si has probably given away half of his wealth to help other people in the industry. If all of them had paid him back, he'd be worth twice as much.
"I have the utmost respect for Si. He's one of the last of the Damon Runyan characters in this industry."
Earlier this year, Redd received the latest in a long line of honors as a gaming innovator.
"I came to this great state about 30 years ago," he said then. "And the main reason I was successful was good timing.
"Casinos had old machines in use, and most of the slot makers were out of business. It was necessary to come up with something new and I was in the right place at the right time."
Redd paused for a moment, his voice catching as he credited most of his accomplishments to his wife, who was battling cancer.
"Above everything else, success in life is health and happiness," he said. "I hope you'll all take a moment and say a prayer for my lovely wife."
Marilyn Redd lost that battle three weeks later. Since then, said close friends, Si Redd has struggled to maintain the contagious enthusiasm and vigor that have characterized his life.