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The Gaming Hall of Fame

1991 Inductee

Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian

Industry Leader

 

Kirk Kerkorian (1917-2015) was a financier and investor who built the world's biggest casino hotel three times, and who was the primary owner of one of the world's largest gaming companies.

Kerkorian started in the gaming industry as landlord of Caesars Palace--he owned the land on which Jay Sarno built his groundbreaking casino in 1966. He decided that he wanted to build his own casino, and in the next year began building the International on Paradise Road, next to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

To train the staff needed to run what promised to be a huge resort, Kerkorian bought the Flamingo. When the International opened in July 1969, he brought over much of the Flamingo's management team with him.

The International, with over 1500 rooms, was the world's biggest hotels, and it immediately became one of the top casinos in the world. Elvis Presley provided an unbeatable star attraction, even after Kirkorian sold the hotel to Hilton hotels in 1971; it then became the Las Vegas Hilton.

In 1973, Kerkorian returned to the gaming industry with the MGM Grand. With 2100 rooms it was, again, the world's biggest hotel. Kerkorian sold it, and the MGM Grand Reno, to Bally in 1986. But he remained active in the industry, buying the Sands, Desert Inn, and Marina casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

By 1993, Kerkorian had sold the Sands and Desert Inn to focus his efforts on his latest project, a new MGM Grand, which incorporated the existing Marina. This casino giant, with 5,005 rooms at its 1993 opening, was again the largest hotel in the world.

Kerkorian then started a buying spree which culminated in the acquisitions of Mirage Resorts (2000) and the Mandalay Resort Group (2005). The resulting company, MGM Mirage (later renamed MGM Resorts International), was by some measures the world's biggest gaming operator.

MGM Resorts continued to push the envelope with its development of CityCenter, one of the largest and most ambitious casino developments ever undertaken. In 2011, Kerkorian stepped back from full-time involvement with MGM, serving as Director Emeritus, though he continued to advise the company's leaders.

Kirk Kerkorian passed away on June 15, 2015 at the age of 98. Current MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said the following:

MGM Resorts and our family of 62,000 employees are honoring the memory of a great man, a great business leader, a great community leader, an innovator, and one of our country’s greatest generation. Mr. Kerkorian combined brilliant business insight with steadfast integrity to become one of the most reputable and influential financiers of our time. Personally, he was a friend and coach, who taught me the importance in looking forward, and to look back only to understand how things could be done better."


 


Gallery
 Party at the Stardust, 1960s. Back row, standing, L-R: Jay Sarno, Toni Clark, Hank Greenspun, and Kirk Kerkorian. Front row, L-R: Jean Kerkorian, Charlie Harrison, Mrs. [Jay] Sarno, Theda Harrison, Harold Ambler, Barbara Greenspun.
Stardust, ca. 1960s. Back row, standing, L-R: Jay Sarno, Toni Clark, Hank Greenspun, and Kirk Kerkorian.
Front row, L-R: Jean Kerkorian, Charlie Harrison, Mrs. [Jay] Sarno, Theda Harrison, Harold Ambler, Barbara Greenspun.
Kirk Kerkorian
Kirk Kerkorian in front of the under-construction International, 1968
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Last modified Wednesday, 17-Jun-2015 15:02:23 PDT

 

 

This page last updated Wednesday, 17-Jun-2015 15:02:23 PDT .