Bennett Quits Job as Chief of Circus Circus

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

William Bennett, one of the two entrepreneurs who built Circus Circus Enterprises Inc. into a Las Vegas casino powerhouse, resigned Friday amid rumors about the company's future.

Circus Circus Chief Financial Officer Dan Copp said Bennett's resignation was voluntary.

Bennett, 69, was not available for comment.

The company said Chief Executive Clyde Turner would assume the additional post of chairman. Turner was not available for comment.

Once a Wall Street darling among casino companies, Circus Circus began to lose its luster early this year when earnings declined for the first time since it sold shares to the public in 1983.

However, its stock has risen in recent days after rival gaming company Bally Entertainment said it was seeking to acquire 25% of Circus Circus stock.

Bennett, who managed the Nevada operations of home builder Del Webb Corp. for five years before entering the casino industry, and William Pennington, a slot machine vendor, bought Circus Circus in 1974 when it was a run-down hotel. The two turned the operation around and used it to become one of the giants of the gaming industry by catering to middle America with low-cost, no-frills hotels and casinos as well as family-oriented fun. Pennington retired in 1988.

Circus Circus went public in October, 1993.

The company's properties include the original Circus Circus Las Vegas casino-hotel; Excalibur, a 4,000-room hotel and casino opened in 1990; Luxor, an Egyptian pyramid-themed hotel and casino, and properties in Reno and Laughlin, Nev.

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