Journeys of Discovery: How Las Vegas became the 9th Hawaiian Island

Mar 16, 2018

Sam Boyd's name lives on in Las Vegas
Credit Thomas Wilmer

The story of how Las Vegas became the 9th Hawaiian Island.  

Bill Boyd, chairman of Boyd Gaming Group in Las Vegas, shares his family’s intimate involvement in the gaming industry Bill Boyd's father, Sam Boyd (born in 1910), moved the family to Oahu when Bill was in first and second grade.

Honolulu 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, and nine legendary Las Vegas casinos, including the Main Street Station, the Fremont, and the California Hotel.

Sam Boyd's California Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Credit Thomas Wilmer

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 Boyd Gaming Group's cultivation of the Hawaiian market, today more than 300,000 Islanders annually visit Las Vegas.

Look closely at the signage around Las Vegas and you will see the signs of Hawaii. For example Hawaii's area code is 808 and thus the "Vegas 808" special
Credit Thomas Wilmer

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. More than 50,000 Hawaiian’s live and work in Las Vegas.

Fremont Casino
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Main Street Station, Las Vegas
Credit Thomas Wilmer

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