Henderson's Eldorado Casino to celebrate golden anniversary

Outlasting many other Las Vegas-area casinos, the Eldorado Casino is planning to celebrate its 50th birthday Sunday.

"Put into context, very few casinos reach this," said David Strow, the director of corporate communications at Boyd Gaming, which owns the Eldorado. "That is an achievement. We have stayed within the same ownership. We are quite proud."

Boyd Gaming plans to honor the occasion with cake and champagne at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Eldorado, 140 S. Water St.

To celebrate, the casino is planning to circulate commemorative, limited edition $5 gaming chips. The promotion is expected to continue throughout 2012.

The casino also is planning 50-cent food specials to mark the anniversary.

The property opened Feb. 15, 1961, as the Wheel.

It was bought in 1962 by Paul Perry and Joe Crowley and turned into the Eldorado, which opened July 1, 1962. According to Boyd Gaming officials, Sam and Bill Boyd were in partnership with Perry and Crowley from the beginning.

It was known for its western theme and had two blackjack tables, one craps table, one $1 slot machine, four 25-cent slot machines, six 10-cent slot machines and 30 5-cent slot machines.

Mark Hall-Patton, administrator of the Clark County Museum, said the Boyds took over ownership in 1966.

"News articles show the city approving the buy July 28, 1966," Hall-Patton said.

Sam Boyd bought about half of the Eldorado at $6,667, and his son Bill bought about a quarter of it at about $3,000. Crowley retained the other quarter.

"It is unclear when he got bought out," Hall-Patton said.

Hall-Patton said the property featured topless waitresses to compete with establishments that offered it. That venture lasted only a couple of months until the Henderson City Council deemed it illegal, Hall-Patton said.

According to the Henderson Home News, Bill and Sam Boyd decided to renovate the property in 1977. The article said the Boyds thought an expansion was necessary to keep up with the growth in Henderson.

The Boyds spent $1.5 million renovating the property, expanding it to 30,000 square feet. Its grand reopening was Oct. 30, 1977.

Strow said that even before other casinos and properties developed around town, the Boyds had the vision to develop. Since the Eldorado, Boyd Gaming has grown to 17 properties nationwide.

"This property fits into how (the company) grew," Strow said.

Unlike many casinos in the Las Vegas Valley that have been imploded, Boyd Gaming decided the Eldorado was important to keep around. In 2007, if underwent a $700,000 renovation.

"It serves an important role," Strow said. "It is a place many of our executives get experience at."

For more information about Boyd Gaming, visit boydgaming.com.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.