The late Claudine Williams, who died in 2009 at the age of 88, was the first woman to run a casino on the Las Vegas Strip and the first woman to be inducted into the Nevada Gaming Hall of Fame. Born near the town of Mansfield in Desoto Parish in rural Louisiana, Williams later moved to Houston, where she met her future husband, Texan entrepreneur Shelby Williams. Together, they bought the Silver Slipper Casino in Las Vegas, which they sold, at a profit, to billionaire Howard Hughes for $5.4 million in 1968.
With the proceeds of the sale, the Williams embarked upon their next venture, building the Holiday Casino, adjacent to the Holiday Inn, on the opposite side of the Strip from Caesars Palace. Shelby Williams died in 1977, at which point Claudine Williams became president and general manager of the Holiday Casino, making her the first woman in Nevada to do so. Williams operated the Holiday Casino until 1983, when she sold her remaining share to Harrah’s and the property was renamed Harrah’s Las Vegas. Nevertheless, she was appointed chairperson of the resort, maintaining an office and acting in an advisory capacity to company executives, for many years afterwards.