Bill Bennett memorial set for Friday

Jan 7, 2003 6:38 AM

The Bennett family will be conducting a memorial service to remember and honor William G. Bennett, the legendary casino visionary who passed away on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002.

The memorial ceremony will be held on Friday, Jan. 10, at 10 a.m. in Artemus Ham Hall on the UNLV campus.

Bennett, owner of the Sahara Hotel and Casino and founder and former chairman of Circus Circus Enterprises, began his legendary career in Las Vegas more than 30 years ago when he began working with Del Webb. Through innovative management techniques, he worked his way from the ground level to one of the company’s top executive posts in Nevada.

In 1974, Bennett made a move that would change the face of gaming when he and a partner Bill Pennington purchased Circus Circus. They revolutionized the industry by increasing the role of slot machines and providing quality food, lodging and entertainment with a premium on value.

During his 20 years as chairman of Circus Circus Enterprises, Bennett opened, among other properties, the Excalibur and Luxor hotels. With the success of the Excalibur and Luxor, Bennett helped create the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip as we know it today and broke new ground in themed entertainment.

When Bennett purchased the Sahara Hotel and Casino in 1995, he set his sights on rejuvenating the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. Bennett immediately embarked on a renovation plan that returned the grandeur to one of Las Vegas’ first resorts. The Sahara now has fresh entertainment, dining and gaming options offered with the value standard, which Bennett helped to create in Las Vegas.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bennett Foundation, an organization that supports charities throughout the community (i.e., UNLV and other educational development foundations). Donations may be mailed to the Bennett Foundation at 2535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89109.