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The Gaming Hall of Fame

1991 Inductee

Bill Pennington

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Industry Leader


Bill Pennington was one of the first to bring mass marketing into the gaming industry.

In 1971, Pennington and Bill Bennet started an electronic games company. Three years later, he and Bennett leased Circus Circus from its founder, Jay Sarno, amid Sarno's mounting legal and regulatory troubles.

Where Sarno had run the casino as a cross between an adult carnival and a serious casino, Bennett and Pennington instead geared it towards the mass market. They were successful, and Circus Circus became one of the country's most popular casinos.

The pair opened Circus Circus Reno in 1978, and expanded both it and the Las Vegas casino. In 1983, they bought the Edgewater casino in Laughlin, and took the company public in the same year. Also in that year, Circus Circus Enterprises bought Circus Circus Las Vegas from Sarno and his partners.

The company grew quickly over the next decade, opening the Excalibur (1990) and Luxor (1993) on the Strip and pursuing several other opportunities. Amid some controversy, Bennett cut all ties with Circus Circus Enterprises in 1995. The company subsequently renamed itself the Mandalay Resort Group and was acquired by MGM Mirage in 2005.

Pennington retired from Circus Circus Enterprises in 1988, and he is remembered for his efforts to open Las Vegas casinos to the mass market.

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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 .