Stan Mallin, the Las Vegas casino pioneer who joined with Jay Sarno to create two of the industry’s most iconic casinos, has died at 98.
Mallin met Sarno, who would become his longtime business partner, when the two became roommates at the University of Missouri. After partnering on hotel projects in several states, a visit to Las Vegas convinced them to invest there, to address what was a significant shortage of hotel rooms.
The first property they opened would influence casino design and influence the entire future of the industry. The partners opened Caesars Palace in 1966 at a cost of $25 million. They would sell it three years later for $60 million.
But the vision of a themed hotel-casino would carry influence way beyond the partners’ next project, Circus Circus casino, opened in 1968 with a carnival theme and overhead circus acts. The theming would pave the way for future milestones such as The Mirage and Bellagio.
Sarno was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 1989, and Mallin 30 years later in 2019.
Michael Green, an associate professor of history at UNLV, told the Reno Gazette-Journal he finds the timing of the pair’s induction fitting to their relationship: Sarno was the face of the operation, and Mallin was behind the scenes.
“Very often, a visionary needs a detail person around,” said Green, who did not know Mallin personally. “(Caesars Palace and Circus Circus) appear to have been mostly Sarno’s vision, but I have the feeling, with all due respect to Sarno, that he couldn’t have done it without Mallin.”