by GT Staff | Bob Stupak, the flamboyant and often times controversial
developer of the Stratosphere Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, died at the age of 67
on Friday afternoon.
Mr. Stupak, who in recent years battled leukemia, died at Desert
Springs Hospital with his family at his bedside.
A native of Pittsburgh, Mr. Stupak came to Las Vegas in 1971 and
bought a restaurant, Chateau Vegas, near the Convention Center. He also
purchased a parcel of land at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, on which he
built the Million Dollar Historic Gambling Museum, which included a small casino
of a few table games and 15 slot machines.
After only two months, the Gambling Museum was destroyed by
fire, and he subsequently built Bob Stupak’s Vegas World hotel and casino on
Although located a couple of miles from the other Strip casinos,
Vegas World attracted a following, partly because of the odd theme – there
were a life-sized space shuttle and astronaut hanging from the ceiling amid
containers filled with bubbling water.
Mr. Stupak also was among the first operators to market with
coupon books and other promotions geared toward budget-minded gamblers.
He was also a high-stakes gambler and accomplished poker player.
In the late 1970s, Mr. Stupak placed a million dollar bet on the Super Bowl (and
won), and appeared in several high-stakes poker games.
Mr. Stupak began developing the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower on
the Las Vegas Strip in 1992, but ran into financial problems (as well as a fire
that set construction back). He subsequently sold out to Lyle Berman, another
poker player and owner of Grand Casinos for about $51 million.
The Stratosphere filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and was eventually
taken over by billionaire investor Carl Icahn.
Mr. Stupak was officially named “Mr. Las Vegas” in
1996 by then-mayor Jan Jones, and actually ran for the mayor’s job a couple of
times without success. He also launched an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant
governor in 2006.
Mr. Stupak is survived by his two daughters, a son, two sisters
and two former wives.
It has been reported that Mr. Stupak requested that there not be
a funeral service.