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King's Castle Casino at Lake Tahoe

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Photo Courtesy of (Angel Fire Press)

$500 Gaming Chip From the King's Castle

Photo Courtesy of (Angel Fire Press)

The King’s Castle casino opened at Incline Village, Nevada in 1969. Nathan S. Jacobson who previously owned an insurance agency as well as the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets basketball team opened the hotel and casino at beautiful Lake Tahoe. When the new hotel and casino opened, the Incline Village Hotel and Casino across the street closed.

Jacobson previously served as President and CEO of Desert Palace, Inc., the original owner of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas until it was sold to Lum’s, Inc. in 1969 for $60 million. At the time he was chairman of the Strip Beautification Commission in Las Vegas and took over the presidency of the Bonanza Hotel Casino along the Las Vegas Strip for the Levin-Townsend Computer Corporation when Caesar’s Palace was sold.

While at the helm of the Bonanza, Jacobson hired former Rand Corporation mathematician Jess Marcum to oversee the numbers produced in the casino and offer insight into the possible introduction of new games. While Marcum pored over spreadsheets of data, Jacobson flew back and forth between Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe where his new King’s Castle was under construction. He loved what he saw.

The Hotel and Casino

As the book Nevada's Golden Age of Gambling described it, the hotel’s motif included walls, turrets, tall iron gates and an indoor dinner theater aptly named Camelot. Outside, statues of Lady Godiva on a horse and a full-accompaniment of four palace guards greeted guests using the tree-studded parking lot near the casino entrance. Inside the casino players enjoyed nearly four hundred new Bally’s slot machines and a dozen table games. Three poker tables were added in 1970.

The casino had good action during the summer months and a steady flow of business from snow skiers who arrived at Lake Tahoe during the snowy months to take advantage of the area’s excellent ski resorts. However, the casino was plagued by theft from inside and struggled to meet financial expectations set forth by an indignant Jacobson.

While bartenders and cocktail waitress cut the profits from drinks never rung-up on cash registers, security guards took a nightly cut of the cash in the blackjack drop boxes with the aid of their own keys. Jacobson fretted over the casino’s declining income and contemplated retirement. When winter arrived in 1974 the casino was shut down.

Hyatt Hotels purchased the hotel and casino in May of 1975 after a short tenure under the direction of Jimmie Hume. Jack Hardy was appointed the new general manager and he oversaw a complete renovation of the property and the reopening of the hotel and casino as the Hyatt Regency at Incline Village.

The resort is still in operation as the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe with the Grand Lodge Casino.

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