One of the most influential casino managers in Las Vegas, Mike Ensign, passed away in his Las Vegas home this Wednesday, during his sleep. Ensign, who was aged 79, is to be remembered as a powerful figure in the city’s casino industry and a father to a former scandalous U.S. Senator, John Ensign. The official confirmation of his death came from Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman and close friend and personal doctor of Ensign, Dr. Tony Alamo Jr., who spoke to the Las Vegas Review Journal about Ensign’s history in the Sin City.
Alamo recalled stories of Ensign arriving at Reno to begin work as a dealer at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in 1963, where Alamo’s father met him for the first time. Both struck a friendship and moved to Vegas 11 years later, where Ensign climbed up the corporate ladder and became CEO and Chairman of Circus Circus Enterprises. The company then expanded into the Mandalay Resort Group in 1999, which owned a number of properties, including the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Speaking of Ensign, Alamo told the LVJ that he was a man who was all “about getting the job done” and not one who loved the spotlight, being a self-made person who climbed from the entry level of the casino industry to the very top. Director of the Gaming Research Center at the Nevada University in Vegas, David Schwartz, shared a similar esteem for Ensign, whom he believes to be one of the principal designers of the modern, resort-laden city of Las Vegas.
Ensign stayed at the helm of the Mandalay Resort Group right until the company was acquired and merged into MGM Resorts International back in 2005. Following the $7.9 billion merger, he officially retired from the industry and lived with his wife Sharon, who passed away in 2014.