|15 Fremont Street|
First Gaming License in Las Vegas
Originally Owned by Mamie Stocker
Photo from the Don Boyer Collection
Paul J. Gregory
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection
This is one of the most historic buildings in Las Vegas. The Northern Club opened in the 1920’s, supposedly as a soft drink parlor. Apparently the name “Northern” was widely used to indicate a place that served liquor during prohibition, and the Las Vegas Northern Club was no exception. However they only served mixed drinks, so any drinks found on the tables during a raid would have to be analyzed to prove that they contained alcohol. That was usually more trouble than it was worth for a $200 fine. You could also get into a poker game at the Northern Club in the 1920’s. Mayme Stocker owned the Northern Club, and when gambling was legalized in 1931 she received the first Clark County gaming license. The Northern Club closed in 1943.|
Mayme's son Lester was a professional gamber who was trying to get wide-open gambling legalized in Nevada. According to his brother Harold, he had tried to get it legalized 1n 1925, 1927 and 1929. In 1930 Lester called a meeting with some club owners, businessman and politicians. The meeting was held in the back room of the Northern Club. Reportedly an unnamed person said, "If I had some money to spread around I could probably get it done. The Stocker's and their partners contributed much of the $10,000 dollars that was requested. Harold didn't know (or care) where the money went from there, but Phil Tobin introduced the gambling bill and it was passed. In a 1970 interview Tobin said all he made from the deal was three bottles of scotch..."He was just plumb sick and tired of seeing gambling going on all over the state, payoffs being made everywhere." On March 19, 1931 gambling was legalized. It only seems appropriate that the first license in Las Vegas went to Mayme Stocker and the Northern Club, which was located at 15 Fremont Street. According to Fuller's Index the Club was licensed for 21, craps, roulette, poker and pan.
Harold and his brothers ran the Club and Mayme ran the hotel above Club. In 1943 the Stockers leased out the casino, which was renamed the Turf Club and Bar but Clarence Stocker continued to run the hotel. Mayme Stocker passed away in 1972 at the age of 97.
First published in the Casino Chip and Token News Magazine, Volume 19, Fall 2006 issue.
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