Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 | 1:30 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
South Point owner and longtime casino operator Michael Gaughan was honored today for his 40-plus years of service to the gaming industry and Las Vegas.
Gaughan was inducted into the American Gaming Association Hall of Fame this morning at the Global Gaming Expo, placing him among the ranks of other gaming legends like Bill Harrah, Steve Wynn and his father, Jackie Gaughan.
Gaughan is the third person to join his father in the AGA Hall of Fame. The others include Boyd Gaming’s Bill and Sam Boyd, and Jack and Benny Binion.
“He never seeks the limelight yet Michael Gaughan has been a major figure in our industry for the last 40 years. He is without a doubt a true industry great,” AGA President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Fahrenkopf said at today’s induction.
After receiving his MBA from the University of Southern California, Gaughan followed in his father’s footsteps and took the helm at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino in 1965. He ended his tenure at the El Cortez in 1972 when he opened the Royal Inn Casino.
“It was during these early years that Michael first established himself as an excellent leader and motivator,” Fahrenkopf said. “He created a friendly, nurturing working environment and as a result, his casinos have boasted more long-term employees than many in our transient industry.”
As a Las Vegas resident since 1952, Fahrenkopf and AGA Chairman TJ Matthews said Gaughan helped to shape the city into what it is today.
Gaughan's other casinos included the Barbary Coast (now Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall), The Orleans, the Suncoast and the Gold Coast. He sold the Coast brand to Boyd Gaming in 2004 but remained chief executive at the company.
He took over the South Coast in 2006 and renamed it South Point, which he currently owns and operates, as well as McCarran International Airport’s slot concessions and the Casino Queen riverboat casino in St. Louis.
The Hall of Fame induction wasn’t his first; he was named to the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year and Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2007.
Keeping his speech short and sweet, Gaughan thanked his family and longtime business partners.
“It’s such a great honor to be here. I thought that it would never happen to me,” Gaughan said. “I’ll leave you with what my dad always said when they honored him, ‘It’s nice to see you all here and thanks for coming.”
The AGA Hall of Fame was created in 1989 and is noted as one of the highest honors for professionals within the gaming industry. Past honorees included former MGM Mirage Chief Executive Terry Lanni, Donald Trump, Wayne Newton and Wolfgang Puck.