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Don Carano, Eldorado Resorts founder, dies at 85

Updated October 4, 2017 - 4:21 pm

Donald Louis Carano, founder of Eldorado Resorts Inc., died on Tuesday, according to a statement from the resort company.

He was 85.

A pioneer in the gaming, law and wine industries, Carano was also an entrepreneur, hotelier, restaurateur, husband, father and grandfather.

His many businesses included Eldorado Resorts, Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, and the McDonald Carano law firm.

He was also known throughout his life as a longtime supporter of philanthropic endeavors in both Reno and his wine country home in Geyserville, Alexander Valley, California.

He was born in Reno on Oct. 17, 1931. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of San Francisco, followed by two years as an officer in the United States Army.

Returning to USF, Carano graduated with honors from USF Law School and began his law practice in Reno. He was a founding member of the McDonald Carano law firm and was proud to maintain an “of counsel” relationship with the firm until his passing.

In 1967, Carano became a partner in the Boomtown Casino with his friends Bob Cashell and Bob McDonald. In 1972, he became a co-owner of the Pioneer Inn on Virginia Street along with longtime partner and friend, Jerry Poncia, and colleague John Lazovich.

In 1973 he opened the Eldorado, the first major casino to open on Virginia Street north of the railroad tracks in Reno. At that time, many considered this to be an extremely daring venture, but ultimately it was one that changed the profile of gaming in Northern Nevada.

In 1993, Carano, in partnership with MGM Resorts-Mandalay Resorts, announced the opening of the Silver Legacy, the first megathemed resort in Reno.

In 2015, Eldorado Resorts completed its $72.5 million acquisition of MGM Resorts International’s holdings in downtown Reno. The transaction gave Eldorado ownership in Circus Circus Reno and the remaining half of the Silver Legacy.

Eldorado Resorts now has 19 properties in 10 states and more than 14,000 employees.

He is survived by his wife, Rhonda, his five children Gary, Gene, Glenn, Gregg and Cindy, 11 grandchildren and six great- grandchildren.

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