Frank Fertitta, Jr, whose sons currently run Station Casinos, has passed away. From the LV Sun:
Frank Fertitta Jr., the patriarch of Station Casinos, died today after heart surgery in a California hospital.
Fertitta, 70, who had been ill for some time, died at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, sources close to the family said.
Fertitta arrived in Las Vegas from Texas with his wife, Victoria, in 1960. He started working as a bellman at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino while he was learning to be a dealer. From 1960 to 1976 he was a dealer, pit boss, baccarat manager and general manager at properties including the Stardust, Tropicana, Circus Circus, Sahara and the Fremont in downtown Las Vegas.
He believed that Las Vegas needed a casino where locals could visit and where casino workers could come after work.
The Station Casinos empire started in 1976 when Fertitta opened The Casino off the Las Vegas Strip. The name was changed to Bingo Palace and ultimately was renamed Palace Station in 1983.
via Frank Fertitta Jr., patriarch of Station Casinos, dies – Las Vegas Sun.
Fertitta, Jr. is another one of the generation of people who came to Las Vegas when the industry was still in its rough and tumble, pioneering phase, and created the casino industry that we know today.
Outside of his abilities as a casino manager, Fertitta had the same kind of vision as Benny Binion, Sam Boyd, or Jackie Gaughan in being able to size up the market and see an opening. For Binion, it was a no-frills gambling joint. Boyd and Gaughan both had their own ideas about casinos that could attract more casual players. Fertitta recognized that Las Vegas residents were a customer base themselves. There had been casinos away from the Downtown/Strip tourist corridor for years–including Boyd’s Eldorado in Henderson–but Fertitta’s evolving casino that became Palace Station was successful enough to serve as the template for the next generation of locals properties.
It’s also worth mentioning that I’m writing this a few hundred yards from a building on UNLV’s campus named for Frank and Vicki Fertitta that speaks to their contributions to the university and community.