Three gaming giants ”” Si Redd, Steve Wynn and E. Parry Thomas ”” have been honored as the inaugural inductees into the Nevada Business Hall of Fame.
Redd, who founded International Game Technology in 1975 as A-1 Supply, developed the first video poker game in 1978 and later created the fabulously successful Megabucks machines.
Wynn ushered in the current era of Las Vegas megaresorts with his opening of The Mirage in 1989.
And Thomas, a banker, is widely credited as the man who bankrolled many early Las Vegas hotel-casino ventures.
The awards ”” bestowed by UNLV’s College of Business ”” were created to honor top business leaders who have significantly contributed to the prosperity of Nevada and have brought positive recognition to the state, said business school Dean Richard Flaherty. Some 30 nominees were culled by a six-member panel, which included Julie Foley Murray of Harrah’s and Jay Kornmayer, a Wells Fargo Bank gaming specialist.
All three honorees were gratified by their selection.
“I think this is probably the loveliest thing that could happen to me, in terms of recognition by our community,’’ Wynn said in accepting his award. “This is as good as it gets.’’
Thomas, the Valley Bank boss who made the first loan to Del Webb’s Sahara in 1954, returned the compliment, saying, “Steve is my fifth son, and no son has made a parent more proud than me.’’
Redd, who went on to develop the Oasis hotel-casino in Mesquite, recalled his first contact with the gaming business. Upon arriving in Reno in the late 1960s, he was amazed as he watched gamblers pour money into slot machines called “Big Bertha.”
“One of those Big Bertha machines took in more than my entire route of jukeboxes,’’ he laughed.