Stardust Casino

Stardust Casino: History And Other Things To Know About The Defunct Casino

In 1954, Tony Cornero Stralla, a bootlegger and well-known liquor smuggler, proposed the idea of Stardust Casino to his two partners. The casino, which opened in 1958, was around for many years, attending to the needs of various gamblers in the United States. However, in 2006, the popular gambling house closed its doors.

Tony Stralla was infamous for many things, from illegal smuggling and insulation companies used as a cover for his smuggling business to lumber-built floating casinos. Stardust Casino was also one of his numerous smart business plans.

However, while construction started immediately, Tony died in 1955, and his brother, Louis Cornero, took over the project. The latter also could not complete the building due to the numerous creditors the former owner had accrued, which led to a halt on the construction work.


This article will discuss the history, and other interesting parts that made up the incredible story of Stardust Casino, the now defunct popular gambling resort in the high-class environment of the Las Vegas Strip, from its inception to its demolition in 2007.

Rella Buys The Stardust

Those well-versed with the Prohibition era’s history that lasted from 1920 to 1933 will probably know who John (Jake The Barber) Factor is. However, for people who are unaware, people like John Factor and Tony Stralla found a way around Prohibition — a national ban on the manufacturing, importation, shipment, and marketing of alcoholic beverages — by selling illegal stuff.

In January 1958, Rella Factor (John’s wife) bought the incomplete building for $4.3 million and finished its construction with a clause to pay off the creditors. The transaction was approved, and the casino officially opened its doors on July 2, 1958.

However, the Rella deal didn’t last long. John and Rella had agreed to pay the Stardust creditors monthly but couldn’t pull through with it and requested a reduction on these monthly payments. At the time, the resort had over a million dollars in liens to be paid back, with many people filing suits against the casino for payment.

In 1954, Tony had illegally sold stocks and had left the investors “high and dry” after his death, leaving the resort with a $2 million debt petition filed by the investors and creditors following his death.

The Purchase By The Desert Inn And LodeStar, Inc.

This debt was overwhelming for the current owners, considering the casino was known for its cheap rates and didn’t bring in enough to counter the debts and generate enough profits.

At the time, the resort and casino part of this establishment was managed by United Resort Hotels and Karat Inc, respectively. A big part of Karat Inc. consisted of officials from the Desert Inn group, who would later take the reins from the Factors for $14 million in 1962.

The investors were paid back, and the gambling house sought loans after loans from the Teamsters Union Pension Fund. Eventually, the building saw an additional nine-storey hotel in 1964. A year later, Desert Inn sold the property to Lodestar, Inc.

The Stardust Goes From Hand To Hand

LodeStar, Inc. managed the casino for 4 years and sold it to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corporation for $40 million in 1969, who employed Al Sachs as the general manager for the gambling resort. It grew successful and even got to borrow a moon rock from NASA for a showcase. After this began the arrays of transfer of ownership the resort went through.

Several people bought and sold the popular gambling establishment. It was eventually sold to Argent Corporation in 1974, and the organization added a sportsbook that became so popular that it garnered the attention of many wealthy and famous people. However, due to an alleged skimming operation for which the Argent Corporation was using Stardust, the gaming house was again sold to a new owner — Al Sachs and Herb Toman in 1979.

The duo had previously worked at the casino as general managers and were considered a good fit, but the skimming operation was discovered again. The Nevada Gaming Authority blamed the duo, giving them no choice but to sell the Stardust again.

The Boyd Family Finally Buys Stardust

After many court cases, lawsuits, and bids, Al Sachs finally sold the building to the California Hotel and Casinos owned by the Boyd family in 1985. At the time of purchase, the Stardust was intimately associated with mob operations, and it was believed to be an open arena for criminal organizations to conduct their businesses. However, this narrative changed with the help of the new owners, and the casino could start a new journey.

While they made the resort more profitable and successful, The Boyd family faced a series of roller coasters, including robberies, trade union disputes, murder, a poor revenue in 2001, and also had time to celebrate the casino’s 45th anniversary in 2003.

However, Bill Boyd would later realize that Stardust was no longer making enough for their gaming companies and decided to close it down through implosion, hoping to build a new gambling house named the Echelon. Still, due to the recession, the Echelon flopped, and Boyd sold the land. The extraordinary story of Stardust came to an end on March 12, 2007, amidst a shoot of beautiful fireworks into the night sky.

Final Notes

The sloppy history of this legendary resort could be blamed on mismanagement from its inception, which ultimately shaped its reputation and eventual demise.

However, despite the many travails and controversies that followed Stardust Casino until its demise, it was still able to serve many casino players and enthusiasts for many years, and many people made some huge wins from the house.

Many would remember this casino for its accommodating services, for some, it will always be remembered as one of the most controversial and notorious gaming houses in the history of the United States, and a few people would forever remember it for its colorful demise.

Photo from Unsplash

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bootlegger, Boyd Family, Casino, gambling, History, mob operations, smuggler, sportsbook, Stardust Casino, The Neveda Gaming Authority, The Stardust, Tony Stralla


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