The list of Las Vegas gaming pioneers got shorter last month when Burton Cohen died in his sleep at the age of 90. Cohen was active in the gaming industry until the end, serving as a board member for MGM Resorts.
Cohen arrived in Las Vegas in 1966 as co-owner and general manager of the Frontier casino, after building and supervising resorts in Miami. Soon afterward, he worked with developer Jay Sarno to build and operate Circus Circus. Later, he worked at the Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Thunderbird and Dunes.
But it is the Desert Inn where Cohen made his name. He managed the property in the 1970s and returned in the 1980s to return it to prominence at the request of his friend Kirk Kerkorian. He retired from active management in 1995, but retained his position with MGM.
“Burton was a dear friend and trusted colleague for more than 50 years,” Kerkorian said in a statement. “I am very saddened to learn of his passing and want to offer my heartfelt thoughts to Linda and their entire family. Burt was a special person and I am deeply honored to have known him and called him a friend.”