Las Vegas History Series: El Cortez Hotel and Casino

This week, we are going to take you again into the history of Downtown Las Vegas and look into another casino and hotel property tied to Jackie Gaughan who was one of the pioneers of the city’s casinos. Unlike many of the other past Las Vegas hotels and casinos that have come and gone, the El Cortez is still a place one can visit when they are in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

It was opened in 1941. In 2013 it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. Before the era of Jackie Gaughan owning it in the 1960s, it was originally constructed by a duo of Marion Hicks and J.C. Grayson for a price of just under $250,000. In 1945, Bugsy Siegel and a group of partners bought the El Cortez for $600,0000. But in 1946, John Kell Houssels, Sr, the original person who opened El Cortez, acquired it back from the world of organized crime. In 1952, there was a grand opening after the property added some new decorations. The resort is also credited with having the first maitre ‘d in 1955. Her name was Pat Gallagher.

Moving ahead, when the casino legend Jackie Gaughan acquired El Cortez in the 60s for four million dollars from John Kell Houssels, he ended up expanding the hotel and casino with a 15 story tower and additional rooms which were completed in the 1980s. Mr. Gaughan was known to live in the El Cortez Tower Penthouse and was on the casino floor almost every day. Even after Jackie sold the casino in 2008 to Kenny Epstein, he continued to live at the casino and play poker there to the day he passed away.  

Additionally, in 2009, a 64 cabana suites were completed that are right across the street from the hotel. Today, the resort’s website reports that they have just finished a remodeling job of their Premium Tower Rooms. In 2016, the hotel and casino celebrated its 75th anniversary. If you’re Downtown and on the Fremont Street Experience, its worth going over to El Cortez to see some of the history. A restaurant by the name of Siegel’s 1941 after Bugsy Siegel and the year the El Cortez opened, has a variety of things on its menu at affordable prices. Most things are $15 or less.

Below you can find our collection of El Cortez chips for sale. You can purchase each one clicking the picture. We have just added some of these to our website this week:









Below we have 2 decks of this version of El Cortez that are used but uncut decks. They are $10 each. Send me an email to if you want one of these or both or call us at 702-362-8767.

We also sell some other El Cortez decks for $1.25 you can buy clicking the picture below: 


New Chips from California:

We have just added these two chips from the Regency California Casino to our website. You can buy either click the picture below:


WSOP Decks on Sale Reminder:

Through December 31st we are giving people a chance to get our individual 2016 and 2017 WSOP decks for a discounted price. You can find out all the information below.

2016 WSOP Decks:

You can get our 2016 WSOP decks in red or black for $3.00 each down from $4.95 each. Enter the promo code wsop2016 at checkout to get the discount. Click the picture below to purchase.


2017 WSOP Decks:

You can get our 2017 WSOP decks in red or black for $4.00 each down from $5.95. Enter promo code wsop2017 at checkout to get the discount. Click the picture below to purchase:

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