Stupak’s dream of a prosperous north end of the Strip is coming true By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports May 4, 2022 at 6:00 pm The late casino maverick Bob Stupak had big dreams for what he liked to think of as the north end of the Strip. As with just about everything associated with Stupak’s roller-coaster life and career, you had to look closely at the fine print of his vision. Stupak, who died in 2009 at age 67, defined the Strip as extending all the way to his gaudy Vegas World casino and his crowning glory, the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Tower. Technically, that’s in the City of Las Vegas and not on the Strip at all. But that’s not how the self-styled “Polish Maverick” of gambling had it figured. If you were on Las Vegas Boulevard, that was close enough for most visitors. He heavily promoted his location despite its, shall we say, shortcomings. And his short bankroll. But he was more of an angle-shooter than a true casino high roller. Frankly, that’s what I liked about him. In my 1997 book about Stupak’s remarkable run in the gaming industry, No Limit, I interviewed Klondike Casino owner John Woodrum about his friend. A colorful character in his own right, John was fond of Bob despite his quirks and shortcomings – or maybe because of them. “Bob didn’t start out with pockets lined with gold,” Woodrum said. “When Bob opened up there, he had a Rolls-Royce, of course, and a big five-carat diamond ring he was wearing, but no bankroll. Gaming Control requires that you have enough cash to open these places. So he went downtown to one of the guys in the pawnshop business. He pawned his ring. Bob pawned his ring and I think his car, too, to open up Vegas World. “That’s always been his act. … He’s a very slick manipulator and that ain’t all bad in this industry. Bob is a little bit of a throwback in this industry. God knows he took a spot in a terrible location and made it work.” Stupak believed his own hype. He knew to his core that if enough excitement – action, as he defined it – reached the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, his dream would come true. I imagine Stupak would have been more than happy to operate a casino in the heart of the Strip if he could have found a way to pull it off. But you might say he bloomed where he was planted and came to realize that if he could make enough noise, he could attract crowds full of people who didn’t particularly care where the line separating the Strip from downtown was drawn. They were just out for an affordable good time. These days, you can watch Stupak’s dream come true in real time with the creation of the $4.2 billion Resorts World Las Vegas, the new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center that extends out to the Strip, the long-awaited completion of the Fontainebleau project, the reclamation of the Lucky Dragon in the form of the Ahern Hotel, and the spiffy reinvention of the Sahara. And if a new sports arena comes to the corner of the Boulevard and Sahara, well, as Stupak would say, “the sky’s the limit” for the north end of the Strip, wherever the line is drawn. No story about this subject would be complete without mentioning a pair of news articles drawn from Eli Segall’s reporting for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The first involves the $52 million price tag placed on the old Travelodge motel next to Circus Circus. Frankly, I thought it was a typo. It will be interesting to see what the deal closes for. Not so long ago, you might have been able to purchase a sizable percentage of that end of the Strip for less. The second is that Stupak’s former home inside Rancho Circle is for sale for $2 million. I always believed he bought the place to be closer to Phyllis McGuire, the princess of Golden Era of Las Vegas and the leading personality of the McGuire Sisters. She lived in a nearby mansion/fortress built for her by Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. Las Vegas has changed a lot since Stupak passed this way. Even so, somehow, the great casino huckster still manages to make the news.