Stan Mallin, a pioneering Las Vegas hotel and casino developer who was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2019, died Saturday night, according to his wife, Sandra Mallin. He was 98 years old.
Mallin met his longtime business partner Jay Sarno while they were roommates at the University of Missouri. He and Sarno built motels in Georgia, Texas and California before visiting Las Vegas on a “trip,” Sandra Mallin told the Review-Journal on Sunday.
“They were shocked that there were no upscale hotels and stuff,” she said. “And they had this vision to create something.”
The two opened Caesars Palace in 1966 at a cost of $ 24 million. It was sold three years later for $ 60 million.
“We hit lightning in a bottle with Caesars,” Mallin told the Review-Journal in 1999. “It started right away. It was the nicest thing in Las Vegas and maybe the country.
Meanwhile, Sarno and Mallin searched for the next new idea – a complex embodying everyone’s childhood fantasy of running away to join the circus. Circus Circus was built in the form of a tent, and trapeze artists performed on it. A live pink elephant “flew” around the casino on a sort of aerial tram. Sarno himself would disguise himself as the ringmaster and walk around the casino.
None of this has worked well enough to generate a profit. Mallin said in 1999 that the mistake was to open without hotel rooms to provide a captive audience. The theory was that the location would be attractive enough to attract visitors from other casinos. He did, but most of them came to be speechless and not play.
“At that time, there was a crackle of gasoline, and you could fire a cannon at the Strip and not hit anyone,” Mallin said. “We did not resist this. We lost $ 5 (million) or $ 6 million, so we rented it out to Bill Bennett and Bill Pennington.
Bennett had experience in casino hotels as an executive at Del Webb Corp., and Pennington was his partner in a slot machine business.
“They struggled the first year and then the conditions reversed, and to tell the truth, they were probably better operators than us,” Mallin said. “They exercised their option to buy after a few years, and Circus was just great.”
Sarno was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 1989, and Mallin joined him 30 years later. Announcing Mallin’s induction, the American Gaming Association said the couple had started “the themed casino trend in Las Vegas” and “introduced the concept of experiential casino properties” with Circus Circus.
Michael Green, an associate professor of history at UNLV, said he found the timing of the couple’s induction to match their relationship: Sarno was the face of the operation and Mallin was more of a man behind the scenes.
“A lot of times a visionary needs a retail person around,” said Green, who did not know Mallin personally. “(Caesars Palace and Circus Circus) seem to have been Sarno’s primary vision, but I have a feeling, with all due respect Sarno, that he couldn’t have done it without Mallin.”
Former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman said he became good friends with the Mallins when he moved to town in 1964 with his wife, current mayor Carolyn Goodman, who worked at Caesars Palace. He largely credits Mallin and Sarno for the inspiration for the architecture and design that make up the Strip today.
“Jay was a foodie, and everything was loud, in a good way,” Oscar Goodman said Sunday. “And with Stan, everything was calm, in a good way, and they were just the perfect combination. I think they were largely responsible for making Las Vegas what it is today.
The pair are also linked to Stan Mallin Drive and Jay Sarno Way, which run parallel to each other at Caesars Palace. Green said Mallin’s street is shorter than Sarno’s, another apparent allusion to their relationship.
“Mallin said something like, ‘Yes my street is shorter. I didn’t need the attention, ”Green said with a laugh. “And he was appointed long after Sarno left, it wasn’t like Sarno was campaigning for a street, but I would have been surprised if Stan Mallin was campaigning for a street.”
Mallin born March 25, 1923 in Kansas City, Missouri. He and Sarno served in the Army during World War II in the South Pacific. They returned to complete their college education, then teamed up as tile contractors in the booming city of Miami.
“If the season was good you got paid and if it wasn’t you didn’t,” Mallin said in 1999.
In an oral history published in 2014 by UNLV Digital Collections, Mallin said the Strip has “changed a lot” since its heyday.
“It’s not as personalized as it used to be,” he said. “If you were a gamer in hotels, they knew you. The food was very well done but not expensive. Everything was planned for the game. It’s not like that anymore. The prices are high and the food is high. It’s more impersonal, I think.
Passionate about golf, Stan met Sandra on the course. They were married for 39 years. They then founded the Sandra and Stanley Mallin Early Childhood Center at Temple Beth Sholom in 2000.
“He was just a gentleman. A discreet and calm man. One of the pioneers of the game, ”said Sandra Mallin. “Weak, always discreet, but very generous.”
Goodman described his friend as one of the few truly decent and kind people he could think of, adding that he always tried to help the Las Vegas community and was at the forefront of philanthropic efforts every time. that he had the opportunity.
“He wasn’t looking for the limelight, but I think if he was to say what his greatest contribution to our community was, he made it a better place to live for all of us,” Goodman said. “If more people were like Stan Mallin, the world would be a better place.”
A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Temple Beth Sholom, 10700 Havenwood Lane.