June 19, 2024

William Pennington, Casino Industry Executive, Dies at 88

RENO, Nev.  — William Pennington, a pioneer in Nevada’s casino industry who helped build the Circus Circus empire, died here Sunday. He was 88.

He had Parkinson’s disease, his family said.

Listed for years on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest people in America, Mr. Pennington gave millions of dollars to education, medicine and other charities through the William N. Pennington Foundation.

Mr. Pennington and his business partner, William Bennett, acquired Circus Circus in Las Vegas in 1974. They opened another Circus Circus in Reno in 1978 and later extended the Las Vegas Strip south with construction of the Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay resorts.

Born in Lebanon, Kan., on March 24, 1923, Mr. Pennington moved with his family to California, where he played football for the University of California, Berkeley, until he was sidelined by a knee injury. He put off graduation when he joined the Army Air Corps to serve as a bomber pilot in World War II.

Mr. Pennington moved to Reno in 1962 to work in the oil drilling business. He soon turned his attention to the gambling industry. He started by designing and building electronic gambling devices in the late 1960s. After Circus Circus began producing large profits in the 1970s, Mr. Pennington and Mr. Bennett added a second hotel tower to the casino.

A decade later, Circus Circus became one of the first gambling companies to offer shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

He is survived by his wife, Susanne; his sons William Jr., of Granite Bay, Calif., and Stephen, of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.; two sisters, Jackie Dunn of Reno and Joan Barney of Antioch, Calif.; and several grandchildren.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=772f36b3c84c29c94628a9a3a61cfe6a

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