‘Mayor of Arizona Charlie’s’ one of the notable gaming leaders we lost in 2020 By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports December 29, 2020 at 8:00 pm It was easily the worst day in the history of Las Vegas locals casino Arizona Charlie’s Decatur. Luckily for the workforce, some who had been employed at the small hotel-casino west of downtown Las Vegas since its opening in 1988, Ron Lurie was there to offer support. Two of the casino’s security officers were senselessly gunned down when they were investigating an incident in one of the property’s hotel rooms on a Saturday morning before New Year’s Eve in 2017. One of the officers, Latosha White, had been with Arizona Charlie’s for more than 20 years and was one of its best-loved staff members. Ron Lurie inside Ron’s Steakhouse at Arizona Charlie’s in Las Vegas/Photo via Las Vegas Sun Lurie, the property’s general manager, was considered Arizona Charlie’s “Mayor.” When he arrived a few hours after the shooting, he brought with him genuine empathy, a sense of calm, and the dignity of a father figure. Lurie took on that same presence when he visited with some of the neighborhood casino’s guests. “I like the local property and I like to get to know the guests,” Lurie told me in 2007 when I profiled him for a “Nevadan at Work” feature for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s a friendly property and everybody knows each other. It truly is a neighborhood casino in every sense because of where we are,” Lurie said of the 258-room hotel-casino that was once a bowling alley in a large strip mall. “At this property, you’re not just a number,” he said. “Our customers come here to meet friends and to socialize, maybe play bingo or eat lunch. Sometimes we see our guests three times a day or sometimes, eight to 10 times a month. I enjoy the atmosphere here.” Lurie, who passed away last week at age 79, served a single four-year term as Las Vegas’ mayor. Previously, he’d spent 14 years on the Las Vegas City Council. Lurie became Arizona Charlie’s general manager in 1999 after working for the property’s ownership group in marketing and player development. His gaming career included work as a sales executive for several gaming equipment providers, including Sigma Games and International Game Technology, a pioneer in video poker machines. It was his role as general manager, however, that gave Lurie the same satisfaction he found during his term as mayor. He enjoyed communicating with guests and understanding their interests. He said it was a daily occurrence that an employee or guest would refer to him as “Mayor.” The title helped him achieve a similar piece of notoriety as one of his successors. The Plaza in downtown Las Vegas opened Oscar’s Steakhouse – named for former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, a one-time lawyer for the mob – shortly after Goodman retired after three terms in 2011. A few months later, Lurie rebranded Arizona Charlie’s signature restaurant as Ron’s Steakhouse. The casino advertised the restaurant around town with his image. “The first time we put billboards out, everyone thought I was going to file for mayor again,” he said at the time. Lurie’s passing was added to the list of notable gaming industry figures we lost in 2020. Among the group were: South African gaming figure Sol Kerzner, 84, the visionary behind the Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut and the Atlantis in The Bahamas. Stanley Ho Stanley Ho, 98, whose gaming-business empire dominated Macau for decades. Paragon Gaming CEO Scott Menke, 55, the nephew of casino executive William Bennett and cousin of Diana Bennett, his business partner in the casino management company. Former Reno casino owner Bob Cashell, 81, who also served as mayor of Reno and lieutenant governor of Nevada. Red Rock Resorts President Richard Haskins, 56, died in a boating accident on July 4 holiday in Michigan. He had been with the Las Vegas company for 25 years. Bob McMonigle Bob McMonigle, 75, a longtime gaming executive of IGT and a driving force behind the creation of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers. Nevada gaming lawyer and lobbyist Sean Higgins, 56. He was executive vice president of government affairs for Golden Entertainment. Longtime gaming executive Horst Dziura, 79, served as president of the Flamingo Hilton (now Flamingo Las Vegas) from 1976 to 1999. He was a mentor to countless other Las Vegas gaming executives. Roy Horn, 75, the flashy animal trainer and showman of the Siegfried & Roy duo that changed entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip by astonishing millions attending their shows at The Mirage. The pair stopped performing when Horn was critically injured in 2003 by one of the act’s famed white tigers. Mike Sexton Mike Sexton, 72, a Hall of Fame poker player and television commentator. Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh, 46, who moved his company to downtown Las Vegas and started a transformation of the rundown area through a $350 million revitalization project that was embraced by city leaders and casino operators. Felicia Campbell, 89, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas professor who studied gambling and pop culture. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.