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Harold's Club was established in 1935 by Harold S. Smith Sr. (1910-1985) and his brother, Raymond A. Smith. Soon afterwards, their father, Raymond I. ("Pappy") Smith (1887-1967), was appointed general manager and became the public face of the casino. The casino expanded by buying adjacent properties. It constructed a seven-story building as part of the casino, but never had a hotel on the property. Pappy Smith developed a marketing campaign that made the casino famous, using more than two thousand billboards across the United States advertising "Harold's Club or Bust", often written on a Conestoga wagon.
Harold's Club was sold to Howard Hughes' Summa Corporation in 1970 for $11.5 million. In December 1994, the casino was sold to Gamma International Ltd. and closed three months later. The casino was then sold to Harrah's Reno in 1999 and demolished. The property is now an outdoor plaza.
It was the target of a casino heist in the 1955 feature film 5 Against the House.
A 70 by 35 foot mural of Old West pioneer settlers that was displayed in front of the casino is now on display at the Reno Livestock Events Center. The mural was designed by Theodore McFallon and constructed by Sargent Claude Johnson.
In the Media
Harold’s Club is a prominent location in Never Split Tens!, a biographical novel of blackjack card counting pioneer Edward O. Thorp by gambling writer Les Golden published in 2017 by Springer International.
- The Rise and Fall of Harold's Club youtube.com
- Harold's Club - Life magazine October 15, 1945. p116
- Harold's Club at Old Reno
- Smith, Harold S. Sr.; Noble, John Wesley. "I Want To Quit Winners". Prentice-Hall. 1961.
- Noble, John Wesley. "Harold's Club or Bust". Nevada Historical Society. 2003. Template:ISBN
- King, R.T. "A Family Affair: Harolds Club and the Smiths Remembered." University of Nevada Oral History Program. 2003. Template:ISBN