The rise of Boyd Gaming began like so many other American success stories, with the arrival of a man with ambition to a town with great promise.
When Sam Boyd settled in Las Vegas in 1941, he arrived with nothing more than a family to support and $80 in his pocket. Beginning on the bottom rung of the industry’s ladder, Boyd manned a roulette table at the Sahara Hotel and Casino.
Eventually, he managed to work his way through the ranks, working as a pit boss and then shift boss, all while taking care to save as much money as he could. In 1952 Boyd had amassed $10,000 in savings, which he used to purchase an ownership stake in the Sahara. To hear Boyd tell it during a 1982 interview, he had always envisioned himself as a player in the lucrative gaming industry:
“I always made a point to try and save about half of what I was making, even back in the days when I was making $100 a week running bingo games in Long Beach. And on all my deals during the last 40 years, I always made a deal that left me receiving a percentage of the profits.”
Following his stint with the Sahara, Boyd went on to take a position with The Mint, a casino in Downtown Las Vegas where he served as General Manager. It was at The Mint where Boyd’s entrepreneurial spirit and an eye toward innovation first garnered widespread attention. Boyd pioneered the concept of enticing gamblers to Downtown Las Vegas by offering live music, shows, and other entertainment options.
In 1962 Sam Boyd partnered with his son Bill to acquire the Eldorado Casino in Henderson, Nevada – the first in a long line of casino property purchases to come for the family. Sam Boyd took over on-site management of the Eldorado in 1968 after The Mint was sold.
The Boyd Gaming Corporation was created in 1975 to help facilitate the construction and development of the California Hotel and Casino, another addition to the Downtown Las Vegas landscape. Bill Boyd withdrew from his successful legal practice to manage the California full-time, and along with his father, the property attained immediate success by virtue of an aggressive marketing campaign directed at the underserved Hawaiian-tourist market.
The Boyd Gaming empire experienced its first expansion in 1979, when Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall opened along the Boulder Highway. Widely considered one of Las Vegas’ first “local casinos,” Sam’s Town catered to residents of the city by offering discounts on food and entertainment, along with more favorable odds compared to the “tourist casinos.” The city’s “Boulder Strip” – a collection of local casinos which includes the popular Stations brand – is said to have started with the success of Sam’s Town.
Boyd Gaming developed a reputation within Nevada as an extremely reputable operator, and as such, the Nevada Gaming Commission requested Sam Boyd’s assistance during an investigation into profit skimming allegations at the Stardust and Fremont casinos during the early 1980s. Boyd was asked to take over the Stardust in 1984 after a $3 million fine was levied against the property’s owners, and the casino was officially added to Boyd Gaming’s portfolio the following year.
Shortly after Sam Boyd’s death in 1993, the Boyd Gaming Corporation held an initial public offering and began listing on the New York Stock Exchange. This move inspired Bill Boyd, now heading Boyd Gaming and flush with cash from the IPO, to embark on an aggressive path of expansion and acquisition by purchasing several casinos and gambling establishments throughout Nevada.
In 1994 Boyd gaming further expanded its reach to include several casinos nationwide, including Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner, Louisiana, Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in East Peoria, Ill., and Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel in Vinton, Louisiana.
In 2003 Boyd Gaming partnered with MGM Resorts International to build the $1.1 billion Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In more than a decade of operation, the Borgata has become an East Coast gaming destination visited by millions of people per year. The Borgata has also earned a reputation within the poker world as a key stop along the national tournament circuit, hosting major events like the World Poker Tour World Championship, while also running several successful seasonal series.
Boyd gaming continued its unparalleled growth within the casino industry by acquiring Coast Casinos Inc. in 2004. At a cost of $1.3 billion, Boyd gaming added four more Las Vegas casinos to its collection – Suncoast, Gold Coast, the Orleans, and Barbary Coast. In a statement issued at the time, Bill Boyd celebrated the move as a positive step for both parties:
“Coast and Boyd are a natural fit. Coast’s loyal and committed management team and workforce will be a great complement to our own outstanding management team and employee base. We are extremely pleased that our two companies have agreed to this transforming combination.
With Coast, Boyd becomes a leader in the highly-coveted Las Vegas locals sector while maintaining its significant presence in major gaming markets throughout the United States. The combined company will have promising development opportunities in Las Vegas and throughout the country. This merger brings into focus a clear growth strategy and creates one of the most diversified gaming companies in the industry.”
Currently, Boyd Gaming operates 22 casino properties in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The company employs more than 16,000 people worldwide while maintaining whole ownership of 15 casinos encompassing 7,550 hotel rooms, 812,500 square feet of casino floor space, 21,400 slot machines, and 425 table games. Boyd Gaming reported $2.14 billion in revenue in 2014.