Milton Prell

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Milton Prell
Milton Prell.jpg
Born (1905-09-06)September 6, 1905
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died June 2, 1974(1974-06-02) (aged 68)
Cause of death stroke
Occupation hotel owner, developer
Spouse(s) Devorah Zion (1945-1974, his death)
Children Sheila Prell (Sonenshine)

Milton Prell (September 6, 1905 – June 2, 1974) was a hotel owner and developer most notable for his projects in Las Vegas, Nevada.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, as a young man he moved to Los Angeles, California. He was good friends with Colonel Tom Parker, best known as the manager of Elvis Presley. Elvis married Priscilla in Prell's apartment at the Aladdin Hotel in a private wedding shielded from the media. Prell was married to Devorah Zion on July 9, 1945; they had one child, Sheila Prell (Sonenshine).


Prell started in the gambling business with a "bingo palace" in California. Prell ordered that the prizes were to be given out honestly to the players and word got out that the place was to be trusted. The bingo palace thrived.

Milton Prell was a successful jewelry salesman in Los Angeles and moved to Butte, Montana in the 1930s. According to the Las Vegas Sun: “(Prell).. went on to become an automobile salesman and later he became a jewelry salesman. Before long he organized his own jewelry organization which rapidly became one of the most successful in California. In 1937, still thinking in terms of his boyhood dream, Prell gave up his business in Los Angeles and moved to Butte, Mont., where he opened the "30 Club." He originally planned to enter the hotel business in Montana, but was sidetracked by the business potentialities of fabulous Las Vegas.” Frank Schivo and his family were residents of Butte. Frank’s mother Emma, operated a small café and bar in Butte. The Schivos and the Prells became friends early on and Frank went to work in Prell’s casino behind his retail operation which was a front for the illegal but tolerated gaming operation. Schivo became a protégé of Prell and travelled with him to Reno and Las Vegas, looking for the right opportunity.

After many preliminary trips to Nevada, Mr. Prell and his family moved to Las Vegas in 1945 with the idea of opening a small hotel.

Remembering the success of his club in Butte, however, he decided first to open a similar spot. here. Club Bingo soon became one of the most popular non-hotel gathering places in Las Vegas and its rapid success again brought forth they young Milton Prell's dream. For a time he thought of adding an adobe village to Club Bingo and making it a small but unique hostelrym but fortunately these plans on paper didn't fit in with the maximum beauty and luxury which Milton Prell had always visualized when he thought of owning his own hotel.

Early in 1951 he gathered around him several former business partners and proposed a deal which resulted shortly afterward in the grating of the first contract for the construction of Las Vegas' newest and greatest addition. Eda Schivo, Frank’s sister became Milton Prell’s private executive secretary, and her brother Frank Schivo became Prell’s key employee in the Club Bingo and the Sahara Hotel.[3]

Milton Prell's first project in Las Vegas was Club Bingo on the Las Vegas Strip. This club was opened in 1947 before many of the major hotels and casinos had opened on the strip, when Fremont Street was the main attraction and casino center. In 1952 the Club Bingo closed and the building was remodeled. Club Bingo opened on July 24, 1947 with 240 rooms on the Los Angeles Highway across from the El Rancho Vegas. In addition to other casino games, it featured a 300-seat bingo parlor. Milton Prell took over in 1952, remodeled the club and opened in October of that year as the Sahara. Called "The Jewel in the Desert" by Prell, the Sahara had a Moroccan theme with statues of camels standing in front of the hotel.

Prell sold the Sahara to Del Webb in 1961 who owned it for the next 21 years. During that time Webb added the tower increasing the hotel to nearly 1,000 rooms.

In 1952 the Sahara Hotel and Casino first opened its doors to the general public. Its original low-rise design came from Max Maltzmann and owner Milton Prell; at a cost $5.5 million to construct. In 1959 Martin Stern, Jr. was called in to design and construct towers for the Sahara adding 14 stories and 200 rooms to the original structure. In 1960 he added another for another 200 rooms. In 1967 he designed a Convention Center Addition for $3 million. 1977 brought about a high-rise addition costing $16 million and once again designed by Stern. In 1979 Stern was back at work designing room additions for an additional $30 million and creating 625 new rooms for the hotel. As of 1988 ownership shifted to Paul & Sue Lowden, and it was sold once again to William Bennett for $193 million in 1995. Bennett would then renovate the hotel and add the new Speed world based on NASCAR racing. He would hire Bergman Walls, Ltd. for the job and pay $100 million to have his vision become reality. When completed, the Sahara Hotel and Casino stood at 26 stories high and boasts 1,802 rooms. The "place" opened as the Sahara Hotel and Casino. Prell added the famous Congo Room as well as 120 hotel rooms. As soon as it opened the Sahara was a success and continues that success until it closed on May 16, 2011.

In 1965, Prell bought the Aladdin Hotel and Casino from the Indiana-based Cook Brothers Trusts for $10.25 million on the Las Vegas Strip.[4] The place had been failing and Prell remodeled it and added an Arabian Nights theme; it opened in 1966. Prell had added restaurants, a lounge, a 500-seat showroom and a golf course.[5]

At the same time, Prell's brother-in-law sold his mattress business so Prell could purchase the The Mint Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street. Prell promised his brother-in-law a job and made him the manager.

Illness and Death[edit]

Some time later, Milton Prell suffered a stroke. Prell needed to use a wheelchair much of the time, but continued to walk with two canes through the casino to his office each morning. The Aladdin's profits were dropping and eventually he couldn't keep up and the Aladdin was sold. He died in 1974.


  1. ^ Casino gambling for the winner Lyle Stuart - 1978 - Page 14
  2. ^ Las Vegas Babylon: true tales of glitter, glamour, and greed Jeff Burbank - 2006 -- Page 43
  3. ^ Milton Prell Top New Man At Beautiful New Hotel By Las Vegas Sun Monday, Oct. 27, 1952; Geno Munari
  4. ^ "Indiana Trusts In Bankruptcy Make Millions". The Piqua Daily Call. Piqua, Ohio. April 21, 1972. p. 8. Retrieved August 29, 2016 – via (registration required (help)). The Aladdin case began in 1965 when the Cook Brothers trusts of Indiana sold the hotel for $10.25 million to Milton Prell's Prell Hotel Corp.. 
  5. ^ Las Vegas Sun