One-time Las Vegas Mayor Ron Lurie (D), who spent many years working in the gaming industry, passed away this week.
Both casino experts and noted politicians have fond memories of the 79-year-old, second-generation Nevadan.
What a loss for our community,” current Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) said in a statement released upon his passing. “Ron was a man with a giving heart and huge smile. A friend to all, like his dad, Art, Ron made a difference to Las Vegas.”
Lurie’s parents moved to Las Vegas from California in the 1950s, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His father, Art Lurie, was a boxing judge and former chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Ron Lurie worked as a sales manager for a slot machine company. He got involved in politics, and was a Las Vegas councilman for 14 years.
Eventually, Ron Lurie beat out Bob Stupak in 1987 for the mayor’s post. Stupak was a casino owner and championship poker player.
In 1999, Lurie was named general manager of Arizona Charlie’s Decatur, a hotel and casino, located in Las Vegas. He retired in January.
Golden Entertainment, which owns Arizona Charlie’s, recalled in a statement this week how Lurie “made an indelible mark on Las Vegas through his work as a leader in the gaming industry, as a philanthropist, and as the former mayor of Las Vegas.”
UNLV gaming historian and academic administrator David G. Schwartz recalled for Casino.org how Lurie “was mayor of Las Vegas during a pivotal period in its history (1987-1991), when the gaming industry began to respond to the expansion of casinos outside of Nevada.
“His deep roots in the community and his work on behalf of local nonprofits like the Discovery Museum and Natural History Museum show that his impact on Las Vegas far transcended politics,” Schwartz added. “As a long-time gaming industry employee and manager, he is an example of someone from the industry having a positive impact on their community.”
Alan Feldman, now a Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute after decades of work for MGM Resorts, agreed.
Ron was a terrific person in addition to being a terrific mayor,” Feldman told Casino.org. “He also won a particularly important race, as his opponent that year was a wheeler-dealer casino owner named Bob Stupak who was the opposite of the stabilizing manager that Ron epitomized as mayor.”
“Ron loved the community long before and long after his term as mayor. He was a mentor to many in the political community and dedicated public servant.”
Lurie took his job at the casino seriously. He enjoyed it, too.
“Being the general manager of a property is just like being a politician. You have to be able to communicate well,” Ron Lurie advised the Review-Journal during a 2007 interview. “You’ve got to research some of the issues customers bring up.
“Local customers are pretty savvy, and to be successful, you have to know what’s important to them.”