Frank Fertitta Jr, founder of Station Casinos, passed away in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on August 21, after heart surgery. The 70-year old was a pioneer in the Las Vegas casino industry and the first to venture off the Strip to build a casino. While others in the industry told him it was a mistake, Fertitta followed his vision and built what is now known as Palace Station back in 1976.

Fertitta had moved to Las Vegas with his wife, Victoria in 1960. He worked in various casinos along the Strip for 16 years, doing everything from dealer to eventually becoming a general manager. His vision was to create a casino for the other casino workers and locals to come after work, instead of focusing on the tourists. From that initial casino, the Station Casinos empire was born.

After renaming his initial casino Palace Station in 1983, the company Fertitta built went on to open Boulder Station in 1994, Texas Station in 1995, Barley’s in 1996 and then Sunset Station in 1997. Continuing the expansion, Station Casinos bought several properties in 1998: the King 8 (renamed The Wild, Wild West), the Santa Fe, the Fiesta and the Reserve. Station Casino has grown ever since to encompass 19 properties currently.

Fertitta retired from the casinos in 1993 but remained active in other family businesses as well as various charitable and philanthropic organizations. Many will miss him in the city of Las Vegas as well as the state of Nevada.

“Frank Fertitta was not only a pioneer in creating locals-friendly casinos but he was one of the most community-minded and generous men in Las Vegas history. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word,” said former Nevada Governor Bob Miller.