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The Gaming Hall of Fame

1998 Inductee

J. K. Houssels, Jr.

J.K. Houssels, Jr.

Industry Leader


John Kell "Ike" Houssels, Jr. (b. 1922) had a career spanning over forty years in the hotel-casino industry with the El Cortez, Showboat, Tropicana, and Union Plaza.

Houssels' father, J.K. Houssels, Sr., received one of the first licenses in Nevada gaming in 1931, and, after serving as an assistant district attorney and Nevada state assemblyman, Houssels junior followed him into the business, becoming a managing partner of downtown Las Vegas' El Cortez and later a principal in the Showboat casino.

When Houssels Sr. bought the Tropicana in 1957, Houssels Jr went with him, becoming president of the Strip casino in 1959. After the family divested its interest in the Tropicana, Houssels joined downtown's Union Plaza, where he eventually became president, and later vice chairman of the board.

Housssels’ community activities range from two terms as president of the Nevada Resort Association, Campaign Chairman of the United Fund, a Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, the National Association of Christians and Jews, the Las Vegas Founders Club.  He is also a board member of the Nevada Ballet Theatre, founded by Nancy, his wife of 37 years.

Returning to Showboat in the early 1980s, Houssels led the company's expansion into Atllantic Ciy, East Chicago, Indiana, and Sydney, Australia. From 1988 until 1998, when Harrah's Entertainment acquired Showboat, he served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer. After the acquisition, he remained active in the gaming industry in a different role--breeding and racing thoroughbred horses.

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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 .