LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A well-known figure in the gaming industry, George Scott Menke, has died at the age of 55.
Menke moved from Arizona to Southern Nevada in his early teens. He began his career in gaming by pursuing a hospitality degree at UNLV.
During that time, he was mentored by the legendary gaming executive William Bennett at Circus Circus.
After graduating in 1987, he took on a management role in the newly-opened Colorado Belle resort in Laughlin and later served in a similar capacity at Edgewater Laughlin.
He was then appointed to the executive team at Circus Circus Enterprises where he coordinated and oversaw development of the Excalibur and Luxor properties on the Las Vegas Strip.
He also structured the acquisition of the Sahara hotel-casino and in 1997, he led the successful reorganization of the landmark Oasis hotel-casino.
Menke launched Paragon Gaming in 2000 with gaming executive Diana Bennett, daughter of William Bennett. They went on to acquire and revitalize hotel and casino properties in California, Nevada and Canada.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the sudden passing of George Scott Menke, my cousin and a beloved member of our family, co-founder of Paragon Gaming, philanthropist and a visionary developer who served the Las Vegas community for more than 30 years. This is a painful, inconceivable loss, and our family respectfully asks for privacy at this time.” Diana Bennett, Chairman of the Board & Co-Founder, Paragon Gaming
In 2006, the company opened the $180 million River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta.
The company later acquired the Riviera hotel-casino, Westgate and Hooters hotel-casino in Las Vegas; the Hard Rock hotel-casino in Lake Tahoe; and Edgewater Casino in British Columbia.
The company also launched and managed the Parq Vancouver until 2019.
Menke was a member of the UNLV Foundation, a supporter of the Nevada Children’s Heart Association, and has been honored for his support of Boys Town Nevada.
The cause of his death has not been released at this time.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said that Scott Menke was 56. He was 55 at the time of his death. He would have been 56 in December.