Center for Gaming Research
The Gaming Hall of Fame

1990 Inductee

Jackie Gaughan

Jackie Gaughan

Industry Leader


Jackie Gaughan (b. 1920) is a pioneer in downtown Las Vegas gambling and casino marketing.

Gaughan started in the gaming field in the 1940s. After receiving a bachelor's degree in business administration from Creighton University, he worked for several legal bookmakers in Nebraska.

In 1950, Gaughan moved his family to Las Vegas, where he had been stationed during and after the Second World War. Gaughan, who had already bought a three percent stake in the Boulder Club, owned shares in the Flamingo and two small bookmaking concerns before selling them and investing in downtown Las Vegas casino.

He bought the Las Vegas Club in 1961, the El Cortez in 1963, the Western in 1970, and was a partner in the Union Plaza, which opened in 1971. He bought the Gold Spike in 1985, and later became the majority owner of the Union Plaza, which in the 1990s changed its name to "Jackie Gaughan's Plaza." At other times, he also owned interests in the Pioneer Club, Golden Nugget, Royal Inn, and Showboat casinos.

Gaughan was one of the first Las Vegas operators to focus on bargain-hunting gamblers. His "fun books," which included a series of coupons and offers, became a widely emulated casino marketing tactic. During his long career, he never sought to have the nicest properties in town, but often had the friendliest.

In 2002, Gaughan sold all of his downtown Las Vegas properties with the exception of the El Cortez, where he continued to live and hold court in the casino. In 2008, Gaughan sold his interest in the El Cortez, although he remains a "goodwill ambassador" of the casino and is a regular presence on the casino floor.

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Last modified Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT



This page last updated Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT .