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date: 02 March 2021

Harrah, William Fisklocked

(02 September 1911–30 June 1978)
  • William J. Hausman


Harrah, William Fisk (02 September 1911–30 June 1978), casino owner and automobile collector, was born in South Pasadena, California, the son of John Garrett Harrah, a lawyer and businessman, and Amanda Fisk. Harrah attended Chapman College in 1931 and studied mechanical engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1932. He was an undistinguished student and was once caught cheating on a chemistry examination. When his family encountered financial problems during the Great Depression, Harrah dropped out of college. His family moved to Venice, California, where his father served a term as mayor. In 1932 Harrah’s father opened an establishment featuring the circle game, a variation of bingo in which some skill was required in shooting balls into a hopper. The circle game was akin to gambling, putting the operation at the edge of the law. William began as an employee but soon purchased the operation from his father for $500. Since gambling was illegal in Venice, the game was periodically closed when authorities chose to enforce the law strictly. In 1937 Hannah moved with his father to the more hospitable gambling environment of Reno, Nevada, and opened a bingo parlor....

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