Gaughan (but not forgotten): Exhibit pays tribute to Vegas gaming legend

Posted by on Jul 1st, 2014 and filed under Featured, Xtra News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Before he passed away at age 93 earlier this year, the El Cortez’s patriarch Jackie Gaughan was a regular player in the hotel’s poker room and dined with guests every day.

Even today the downtown gaming legend’s presence can be felt in the historic casino’s air, in the memories of longtime players and of course, through promotions like the $5 Jackie’s Burger at Cafe Cortez.

“Jackie Gaughan’s Downtown as Seen through Gaming Memorabilia." Photo by Jerry Henkel

He is also commemorated through a mobile exhibit, “Jackie Gaughan’s Downtown as Seen through Gaming Memorabilia,” inside the hotel’s Club Cortez.

The exhibit features more than 300 gaming artifacts on loan from the Museum of Gaming History. The items come from the many downtown properties Gaughan owned or had interest in such as El Cortez, Gold Spike, Club Bingo, The Western, Union Plaza and the Las Vegas Club.

Though it’s not a large exhibit, there’s a great deal of nostalgia contained inside the two glass cabinets and glass-enclosed desk, including historic casino chips, tokens, dice, keno tickets, matches, ashtrays, fun books, coin cups, postcards and menus.

A 30-minute video montage of the items plays on a flat-screen television above the desk and a handful of historic photographs line the walls.

It’s funny how many of the artifacts are decidedly “old school” in their design, but not really all that different from the gambling swag one might find in their pockets or purses nowadays after a long night at the casino. And many of the hotel facades pictured in the exhibit look strikingly similar to their current iteration.

It seems vintage Vegas is evergreen in the desert.

Even so, we can’t help but be attracted to the romance of days when the Rat Pack roamed Vegas and casino owners like Jackie Gaughan grabbed a burger with his hotel guests.

Aleza Freeman

Yes, I’m from Las Vegas. But I’d like to clarify a few things: I don’t live in a hotel and I’m not a showgirl. I put my pasties on one nipple at a time, just like everyone else. I’m a regular girl who plunges off the side of ridiculously tall Las Vegas landmarks and writes about it for a living. I also ride roller coasters, hang at hotel spas, shoot zombies in the face and take art lessons from bottlenose dolphins. You know, normal stuff. My career as a journalist and copywriter has led me out of Vegas and around the world, but the 24/7 normality of Vegas sucks me back in every time. Am I oblivious to the plethora of slot machines everywhere I go? Sure. But that’s because I’m distracted by all the pretty lights. Follow me on Google+ and Twitter.

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