Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2018

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Member of Gaughan gaming family, Jackie Jr., dies at 54

John F. Gaughan co-owned two downtown casinos with his father, John D. "Jackie" Gaughan, in the 1980s but unlike his brother, Michael, or their legendary dad, he never really pursued a gaming career.

Jackie Jr., as he was nicknamed, shunned the publicity that made his father and brother household names in Nevada, with interests in more than a dozen resorts.

Gaughan died in his sleep Sunday at his Las Vegas home. He was 54.

"He was a mystery man," one longtime casino publicist said, asking that his name not be printed. "While Jackie sought so much publicity for so many of his promotions, Jackie Jr. never was visible in the gaming industry."

A friend of the Gaughan family, who also asked that his name not be printed, described Jackie Jr. as "shy and introverted -- a very low-key person."

Services will be 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Viator Catholic Church, 2461 E. Flamingo Road. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. Wednesday at Palm Mortuary-Downtown. A rosary is scheduled at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the mortuary.

In addition to owning 2 percent of the El Cortez and having an interest in the Gold Spike downtown, Jackie Jr. also was at one time general manager of the Union Plaza, which today is called Jackie Gaughan's Plaza.

Attempts to reach a family spokesman Monday for comment, biographical information and a photograph were unsuccessful.

Jackie D. Gaughan owns or co-owns the El Cortez, Plaza, Gold Spike, Las Vegas Club and the Western and previously held interests in the old Showboats in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the Flamingo, Golden Nugget, Pioneer Club, Boulder Club and the former Royal Inn casino. Michael Gaughan owns or co-owns the Suncoast, Barbary Coast, Gold Coast and The Orleans.

Jackie Jr.'s grandfather was a bookmaker in legal casinos in Carter Lake, Neb., in the 1940s. Jackie Jr.'s nephew, John Gaughan, is a horse race disseminator, providing live horse race broadcasts to race books.

Born Nov. 24, 1947, in Omaha, Jackie Jr. was the younger of the two sons of Jackie and Roberta May "Bertie" Gaughan, who died in 1996 at age 75.

The Gaughans relocated to Las Vegas in 1950 after passage of a 10 percent tax on the legal bookmaking parlors crippled the industry in Nebraska. That year, the Gaughans bought an interest in the Flamingo hotel.

The Gaughan children were raised in gaming. Their mother long oversaw the coin room operations at the El Cortez while their father ran the sports book and focused on marketing promotions such as candy and logo jacket giveaways to attract a steady base of local residents.

In a Sept. 13, 2000, Sun story, the elder Gaughan said he insisted his sons start at the bottom of the industry as dishwashers and pool boys and work their way up.

"I never pushed my sons into the business," Gaughan said in that interview. "I've always put in 12-hour days, seven days a week because I just love being around this business. They did it on their own and they also worked hard."

Jackie Jr., a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School, was an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam war.

He was an executive at the El Cortez in the early 1980s when the resort built its $10 million, 14-story, 200-room tower -- the biggest expansion project in more than a half century of operation.

In 1985, Jackie and Jackie Jr. bought the Gold Spike.

In addition to his father and brother, Jackie Jr. is survived by his wife, Tina Gaughan, and three sons, John Gaughan, Billie Gaughan and Kelly Gaughan, all of Las Vegas.

The family requests donations in Gaughan's memory to Bishop Gorman High School.