How Las Vegas Became The 9th Hawaiian Island

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Fremont Casino Las Vegas
Sam Boyd’ Fremont Casino Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Click Here to Listen to Bill Boyd’s NPR.ORG Podcast interview

Come along and join Bill Boyd, chairman of Boyd Gaming Group in Las Vegas. Boyd shares his family’s intimate involvement in the gaming industry that dates from when his father, Sam Boyd (born in 1910), moved the family to Oahu when Bill was in 1st and 2nd grade.
Bill Boyd
Bill Boyd and Tom Wilmer

This is where Sam Boyd became intimately involved in the local, under-the-radar Hawaiian gambling scene—and this relationship would play a critical role in Boyd Gaming Group’s success decades later. The family eventually moved to Southern California where Sam Boyd worked the Long Beach Pike bingo parlors, followed by a stint aboard offshore gambling ships. Perpetually in search of opportunity, Sam Boyd moved his family to the sleepy desert railroad crossroads town of Las Vegas in 1941. A decade later, Sam Boyd was offered a 1% share in the Sahara when the casino opened its doors in 1952, and as they say, the rest is history. Today, Boyd Gaming Group, with Bill Boyd as Chairman of the Board, owns 22 casinos across America including nine legendary Las Vegas casinos, including the Main Street Station, the Fremont, and the California Hotel. As the Boyd family built their Las Vegas Empire, Sam recalled the Hawaiian Islanders’ passion for gambling, and the family commenced regular marketing trips to the Islands. As a direct result of the cultivation of the Hawaiian market, today more than 300,000 Islanders annually visit Las Vegas. Boyd’s California Hotel alone is often filled with more 90% Hawaiians, and every week four Boyd Gaming charter jets arrive at McCarran International from Honolulu. And this is why Las Vegas has been dubbed the 9th Hawaiian Island. Oh and as a spin off, it’s estimated that today more than 50,000 Hawaiian’s live and work in Las Vegas.

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Sam Boyd's California Hotel
California Hotel Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Bill Boyd in his corporate office
Bill Boyd in his office in Las Vegas where he visits with Tom Wilmer
Fremont Casino
Fremont Casino Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
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Touches of Hawaii abound in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer


catering to Hawaiians in Las Vegas
No it’s not Hawaii…look closely in Las Vegas and you will see marketing to Hawaiians everywhere
California Hotel Hawaiian culinary offerings
Las Vegas cuisine caters to Hawaiians at the California Hotel. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Hawaii in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Hawaii in Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Main Street Station
Main Street Station in downtown Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
California Hotel Las Vegas
California Hotel, Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer