Like Steve Wynn, Bill Harrah was born into the gambling business. His father operated boardwalk games and concessions on Venice Beach near Los Angeles, and the bingo-like "Ring" made twice as much money as anything else. Authorities called it gambling and shut down the operation occasionally, so Harrah looked for somewhere to operate legally — and found Reno (and Lake Tahoe).
He started making big money in 1969, when he built large hotels in both Reno and Tahoe. He started having fun, too, marrying seven times (including briefly to singer Bobbie Gentry) and buying cars — lots of cars.