128 Fremont

Las Vegas, NV



Binion's Horseshoe 

19

64

to 200

5


Binion's Horseshoe button Jack Binion
Binion’s Horseshoe in Downtown Las Vegas lights up the sky in 1964
The Binion family once again became the sole owners of the Horseshoe in 1964.
The casino-hotel then became Binion’s Horseshoe with Jack Binion as president and Lonnie “Ted” Binion as the casino manager.   Benny Binion was always listed on the payroll as a consultant but he never regained his gambling license.
The bright neon sign of Binion's Horseshoe now rests at the Neon Museum.
In February of 1960, Benny Binion's son Jack was approved by the state gaming commission for a 2 ½% interest in the Horseshoe Club. By August of 1961, 24-year-old Jack Binion, was seeking city gaming approval to buy another 20% of the Horseshoe from Robert F (Doby Doc) Caudill.  The purchase had already been approved by the state.

In June of 1964, 17 Horseshoe shareholders sold Jack Binion their 65% interest in the Horseshoe for $1.3 million, leaving him as the sole shareholder.  By August of 1964, Jack Binion is listed as the sole shareholder of the Horseshoe and the state gave approval for his brother, Lonnie “Ted” Binion and his mother Teddy Jane Binion, to be licensed as corporate officers without investment.
Even though Benny Binion was no longer licensed for gambling in Nevada, or anywhere else for that matter, he still ran the Horseshoe in his role as a “consultant”.

However, in October 1965 he had to take another "vacation” while he served the remainder of his sentence as described in the article on the left.
Blue plastic swizzle stick from Binion's Horseshoe
Hand soap from Binion's Horseshoe
Dice from Binion's Horseshoe
Jim Beam Commemorative whickey decanter from Binion's Horseshoe
Night shot of Binion's Horseshoe showing the Mint Tower by Brian Wegner
Shown behind this great night shot of the Horseshoe is the Mint Tower.

The Binions bought the Mint in 1988 and expanded their casino which now became the Horseshoe Hotel Casino.

That same year, a bronze statue of the young Binion on horseback, called “Tribute to a Cowboy,” was erected downtown near the Horseshoe to celebrate the contributions Benny Binion had made to Las Vegas.

In 2008 the statue was moved from Casino Center Boulevard and Ogden Avenue to the equestrian center inside the lobby of the South Point Hotel and Casino at the southern end of the Strip.
The World Series of Poker
started with little fanfare at
Binion's Horseshoe in 1970.

"Horseshoe Casino patriarch and poker icon Benny Binion is widely credited with dreaming up the championship format. But laurels should probably go to two lesser-known men - Tom Moore and Vic Vickrey.  Moore, a Texan, was part-owner of the Holiday Casino in Reno. Vickrey was a gambling insider, a visionary man with grand ideas and big dreams."  (from WSOP)


Binion's Horseshoe ran smoothly under the family's guidance for the next 25 years.

Brothers Jack Binion, as president, and Ted as the casino manager, had advice from their father Benny while their mom Teddy oversaw the cashier's cage. It was a very profitable enterprise.

Benny was a fixture on the site until his death in 1989.

“Nobody needed an appointment to talk to him; they asked him personally for his ear, and usually got it. When he invited one to sit down and have a bowl of the Horseshoe's famous chili, the guest was often a senator or federal judge. And just as often, it was some old Texan from a one-windmill spread, trading stories of rodeos and crap games.” 
From the ReviewJournal.com archive

In December 1999, Becky Behnen sold off the famous “Million Dollar Display” to a private collector.
In December 1999, Becky Behnen sold off the famous “Million Dollar Display” to a private collector.

The display had been a downtown fixture since Joe W. Brown had put in the original in 1954. According to a story by Howard Hickson the million dollar display sold for $13 million.
The bright neon sign of Binion's Horseshoe now rests at the Neon Museum.
It's a sad reminder to me of the better days of the Horseshoe.
I took this photo on a visit to the Neon Museum in 2013.


Binion's Horseshoe was never the same after the departure of Jack Binion.

Under the management of Becky Binion Behnen it deteriorated rapidly. Becky's husband Nick Behnen could not get a Nevada gaming license so was prohibited from any management duties. However like Benny Binion before him, it is commonly thought that Nick ran things from behind the scenes. But unlike his father-in-law or his brother-in-law, Nick ran it poorly.

The property continued to deteriorate and became a shadow of it's former glory and hemorrhaged money until it closed in January 2004 after U.S. marshals seized cash from the casino to pay outstanding employee benefits.

“Hotel employees and guests were shocked when U.S. Marshall's, IRS officials and Gaming Control agents swarmed the casino telling everyone to cash out and leave on Friday. The group was enforcing two federal court orders to collect nearly $2 million in unpaid benefits to the hotel and restaurant employees union and the culinary union.
Two months ago the IRS filed a second lien against the casino claiming it owes $5 million in back payroll taxes. On Sunday, Eyewitness News cameras caught employees emptying out slot machines under the watchful eyes of U.S. Marshal's. It was a disappointing sight for those who have grown to love the Las Vegas landmark.” Quote from news8now

In March 2004 West Virginia-based MTR Gaming Group and Harrah's Entertainment bought Binion's Horseshoe for an estimated $50 million from Becky Binion Behnen.  Ironically, at about the same time, Harrah's was forking over $1.45 billion to Becky's brother Jack Binion for his unrelated Horseshoe Gaming Holding Corp.  Jack had started that company when he left Las Vegas and opened other Horseshoe properties in other states.  As Becky and her husband Nick ran the Horseshoe into bankruptcy, Jack was building an empire.

Harrah's would manage the property for the next year and retain the rights to the Horseshoe brand and the WSOP.

The casino re-opened On April 1, 2004 after being closed for 2 ½ months. At that point it was still “Binion's Horseshoe” and was re-opened by Harrah's management in order to accommodate the World Series of Poker tournament scheduled for April 22. 

Gone was the duct taped patched carpet and about a third of the slots. The employees were being paid again and the crowds returned as Mayor Oscar Goodman presided over the grand re-opening.

March 9, 2005 marked the last day of Harrah's Entertainment management and the change to
“Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel”

At least the new property was still called “Binion's” to retain the cache of the Binion name,
although there would be no Binion in residence.

After 53 years in one location, there would be no Binion running Binion's.

I have broken out the Horseshoe Clubs by owners/operators/era.
You can click on the links below to go to those pages.

Benny Binion's Horseshoe Club

1951 to 195

3 and 1958 to 1964


Joe Brown's Horseshoe Club

195

3

to 19

58


Binion's Horseshoe

19

64

to 200

5


Binion's Gambling Hall
2005 to present

A note about the dates above. You can
find a wide variety of dates that either agree
or contradict these dates. I used dates from
the best records I could find and from
newspaper and gaming commision reports
of the time.  In other words, everyone has
their own opinion! Enjoy!



This happy family portrait of Ted, Benny, and Jack Binion from the 
Elks Helldorado program in 1973 didn’t foreshadow darker times to come.

Ted Binion developed a heroin addiction and was ultimately arrested for drug trafficking in 1986. He managed to keep his gaming license for another 10 years but finally lost it in 1998. He was also banned for life from his own family's casino and forced to sell his 20% share of the business to his sister Becky Binion Behnen.  

Ted Binion died of a heroin overdose on September 17, 1998. There is controversy over facts in the case and two people were convicted in his murder and then the verdict was reversed.
His death was the stuff of books and several have been written about it.


Jack Binion's life took a more successful route as he began to expand the Horseshoe name to Indiana, Louisiana, and  Mississippi leaving Becky and her husband Nick Behnen to manage the day to day operations at the Las Vegas Binion's Horseshoe. He also retained the rights to the Horseshoe brand outside of Nevada.

But this was the beginning of the end for the successful operation. Following a protracted legal battle, Jack Binion finally sold out his share of Binion's Horseshoe in 1998 for a reported $20 million. He retained 1% interest in order to retain his Nevada gambling license.

Becky became president of the corporation, with husband Nick Behnen as the casino manager while their son Benny Binion Behnen, grandson of Benny Binion, also joined the business.



Jack Binion went on to form Horseshoe Gaming Holding Corporation which was eventually sold to Harrah's Entertainment in 2004.  In July 2006, Jack became chairman of Wynn International and then resigned that position to become a consultant for Wynn.
This happy family portrait of Ted, Benny, and Jack Binion from the
Elks Helldorado program in 1973 didn’t foreshadow darker times to come.
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Sources you might want to visit for more information include: 
Newspaper Archive    Newspapers.com   UNLV Digital Collection    UNLV Reno   Las Vegas Sun     mypubliclibrary.com  
TCR numbers are used by express permission of SSS Publishing publishers of The Chip Rack.

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