Willard “Bucky” Howard, a respected gaming executive who helped launch Atlantic City casinos, died May 16. Howard inspired a generation of casino executives who today are leaders in the industry. His contemporaries in Atlantic City included Jim Allen, Phil Satre, Steve Hyde, Mark Etess, Peter Boynton, Marc Schorr, Arte Nathan, Rudy Preito, Roger Wagner, Dennis Gomes and many others were instrumental in the success of Atlantic City in those days.
Although he cut his teeth in the casinos of Nevada—his father was the surveillance manager at Binion’s Horseshoe, and they were both good friends with Jack Binion—it wasn’t until he arrived in Atlantic City that Howard began to shine. Like Steve Wynn, who employed him as the first casino manager at the Atlantic City Golden Nugget, the Boardwalk brought out the best in Howard. He later worked at the Tropicana, Showboat and Trump’s Castle and Taj Mahal. According to an obituary published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Howard was “the Pied Piper of Atlantic City as everyone who wanted to be somebody in the casino business wanted to be like Bucky.”