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The Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall is a hotel and casino in Laughlin, Nevada, United States known for its neon cigarette-puffing River Rick marque. It used to be a sister property of Pioneer Club in Las Vegas until both properties sold to separate parties.
What would become the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall initially opened in 1979 as the Colorado Club and was built by Tom Ward and Ed Nigro. In 1986 the casino has the distinction of being the first casino to open a players’ club for slot players in Nevada.
The Hotel and Casino was purchased on January 9, 2004 by its current owner Archon Corporation. The current owners continue the western theme that has been the signature of The Pioneer Club since its inception. The casino added a new sports book, operated by Lucky’s Race & Sports Book, in August 2009.
River Rick is the name of the neon sign that resembles a cowboy that was erected at the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in 1981. He is also referred to by some as Laughlin Lou, although the hotel itself calls him River Rick.
When Margaret Elardi, owner of the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas, bought the Pioneer Club Laughlin in 1981 she commissioned the River Rick neon sign to be built, which was an almost exact copy of Vegas Vic found at the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas at a cost of $1.5 million.
River Rick was built by the same sign company (Young Electric Sign Company) that made Vegas Vic 30 years prior.
River Rick is one of three neon cowboys in Nevada, the others being Vegas Vic and Wendover Will.