October 16: Big Ideas Under the Big Top: Jay Sarno, William Bennett and 50 Years of Circus Circus
Circus Circus reaches a significant milestone this year; the casino resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary. To commemorate this landmark, the Museum will explore its fascinating history with a panel of individuals who witnessed the rise of one of the most familiar brands on the Las Vegas Strip.
Discussion will include:
- Jay Sarno’s vision for Circus Circus
- The casino resort’s leadership under William Bennett
- The Teamsters Union Loan funding the hotel
- Tony Spilotro’s gift shop
- Tanya the elephant’s inelegant strolls through the casino
- And much more
This will be a rich and intriguing discussion of Las Vegas history, with many anecdotes from the 1960s through the 1980s. The panelists are top notch, headlined by Stan Mallin, who is 95 years old and was involved with the development of both Caesars Palace and Circus Circus alongside Jay Sarno. Jay Sarno Jr. and Diana Bennett will offer stories and insights to better understand what made their fathers tick.
Following this program, please join us for drinks in The Underground speakeasy with Jay Sarno Jr.
Jay Sarno Jr.
Jay Cameron Sarno (generally referred to as Jay Sarno, Jr.) was born on July 18, 1958 in Atlanta, Georgia. He moved to Las Vegas in June of 1965 when his family relocated because his father was building Caesars Palace. As a teenager, Jay worked at Circus Circus repairing and running bumper cars, and assisting in the executive office during the construction of the first 400-room hotel tower.
In 1987, Jay founded Crescent Design, Inc., which was originally in the consulting design business for casino gaming machinery. It has since branched out and has evolved to be a world leader in the design and production of specialized automation and test equipment used primarily by the medical device industry.
Jay serves his community as a member of the North Coast Repertory Theatre Board of Directors. He first served in that role from 1984 through 1989, during which he was President for three years. He re-joined the board in 2000 where he has been Vice President for the past 14 years. Jay and his wife Julie are involved with many local and regional theatres and other charities. Jay serves as an advisor to the boards of several theatres.
A second-generation casino operator, renowned philanthropist, and one of the most effective and respected executives in the gaming industry, Diana Bennett serves as Chairman of the Board and is the co-founder of Paragon Gaming, a developer and operator of gaming-based properties. Under the leadership of Ms. Bennett and co-founder Scott Menke, Paragon has grown its reputation and footprint with the successful management of properties in North America and the development of its premier international destination, Parq Vancouver.
Stanley Mallin partnered with Jay Sarno to build Caesars Palace and Circus Circus, two of the most iconic resorts in Las Vegas. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. He served three years in the Army in the South Pacific during World War II. He then graduated from the University of Missouri, where he met Sarno. Together, they worked as tile contractors in Miami, and then developed residential and commercial real estate in Atlanta, Georgia, and Dallas, Texas. After a trip to Las Vegas in 1961, they envisioned a themed hotel, Caesars Palace, which opened in 1966. They followed up with Circus Circus in 1968. After selling the latter property to Bill Bennett and William Pennington, Mallin retired. In the years since, he has been a noted philanthropist. The Early Childhood Center at Temple Beth Sholom is named for Mallin and his wife, Sandra.
David G. Schwartz
David G. Schwartz, the Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, studies the history of gambling, the current state of the casino gaming industry, and related issues. Schwartz is a prolific writer, having written several books including “Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas” and “Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling”. He also writes regular features and the “Green Felt Journal” column for Vegas Seven magazine. Born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Schwartz earned his bachelor’s degree (a double major in anthropology and history) as well as his master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania before receiving his doctorate in US History from UCLA. His academic interest in gambling stems from his hands-on experience in the casino industry as a security officer and surveillance officer. Schwartz has been dubbed “gaming’s leading historian” by Global Gaming Business magazine and named one of the field’s most notable emerging leaders by that publication. Schwartz lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mike Sloan serves as Senior Vice President of Government Relations at Fertitta Entertainment, responsible for local, state, and federal government relations, public relations and all legislative activities involving Fertitta Entertainment or Station Casinos. He was a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Press Secretary to the U.S. Senator Alan Bible. Sloan also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel with Mandalay Resort Group for 20 years as well as serving for many years on the Board of Directors for the Nevada Resort Association, including a four-year term as Chairman. Prior to joining the company, he provided gaming and government-relations consulting services for some of Nevada’s largest gaming companies. He was elected Las Vegas City Attorney in 1988 and twice appointed to Nevada State Senate. Sloan is a graduate of University of Las Vegas and George Washington University Law School.