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Gaming Guru

David Kihara
 

Casino Executive Shendal Dies

1 April 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Dean E. Shendal, a former Caesars Palace executive and well-known Las Vegas resident, died Thursday night at St. Rose Dominican Hospital. He was 79.

Shendal, known as an avid outdoorsman, a professional steer wrestler and rodeo star, was also a fixture in the Las Vegas social scene, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and other rat pack members, said his son Adam Shendal.

"He was one of the most charismatic men around and was one of the last of that generation," Adam Shendal said.

Shendal had many ties to the gaming community besides serving as a Caesars Palace executive. Before his involvement with Caesars, Shendal worked as the slot machine manager for the Sands Hotel during the 1960s, friends and family members said.

Shendal is also credited with bringing gaming to grocery store outlets, Adam Shendal said. As the president of the Corral Coin Machine Co., he was instrumental in bringing slot machines to the insides of grocery stores for customers in the 1970s, family members said.

The former gaming executive was also known for opening his ranch, located in Green Valley, to many resident and celebrities who enjoyed horses, including the actor James Caan, said Marilyn Resnick, a close family friend.

"You couldn't help but like him -- he wanted everyone to be happy and he was like the host of Las Vegas," she said.

But Shendal had a dark side to his past as well. In 1984, he pleaded no contest to a charge of possessing a firearm with the serial number removed. A U.S. District Judge sentenced Shendal to five years' probation and fined him $2,500 for the weapons-possession charge.

At the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Cambell stated that the .22 caliber pistol, equipped with a silencer, was outfitted for assassination purposes, according to news reports from the time.

But friends and family members remembered a different version of Shendal. His daughter, Adeana Shendal, remembered her father as a wonderful man who was instrumental in her upbringing.

"He was just larger than life," she said.

Resnick also remembered Shendal as a wonderful person. She recalled one anecdote in particular.

When Resnick's mother came to Las Vegas, they went to play the slot machines at the Sands. At the time, in the late 50's, she said, knowledgeable players and employees could manipulate the slot machines by placing magnets at the appropriate locations, thereby triggering a jackpot.

Resnick recalled that Shendal would activate jackpots when her mother was playing at the slots.

"My mother loved when Dean would come around when she was playing because she didn't know that he was (activating) the wins. She would say, 'Dean is so lucky,' " Resnick said.

Shendal is survived by his son Adam and three daughters: Mary-Lynn Shendal, Adeana and Molly Shendal.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Monday at Palm Mortuary, at 7600 S. Eastern Ave.