William Fisk Harrah (William Fisk Harrah)

William Fisk Harrah

Founder of Harrah’s Casino Hotels. Having been fascinated with cars in his childhood and teens, he studied mechanical engineering at UCLA until the stock-market crash of 1929. He then worked at his family’s business, where a Bingo-like game was played. At age 20 he bought the business. It prospered under his leadership, but he eventually moved it to Nevada so he could escape persecution from the politicians of California, where Bingo was illegal. Thus, on October 30, 1937, the first Harrah’s Casino opened in Reno. It failed after just two months of operation, but Harrah bought buildings in better locations, improved their heating systems, replaced floor tiles with carpeting, and furnished guest rooms with roses to maximize the comfort of his customers. He later added live entertainment, booking such stars as Bill Cosby and Sammy Davis, Jr. To sweep the gambling business of corruption, he formed the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 1955 and the Gambling Commission four years later. He also included women and people of color among his dealers and other employees. In 1962 he opened a museum of more than 1400 automobiles, the first of which was a 1911 Maxwell he had restored in 1946. After more than 40 years of leading his company, he died of an aortic aneurysm at St. Mary’s Hospital. (bio by: Collins Crapo)  Family links:  Spouse:  Verna Rae Harrison Harrah (1944 – 2012)* *Calculated relationship Inscription:”I did it right”


  • September, 02, 1911
  • USA


  • June, 06, 1978
  • USA


  • Hailey Cemetery
  • Idaho
  • USA

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