The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Lorenzo Creighton

Gaming executive Lorenzo David Creighton was born on January 5, 1953 to David and Lucille Fox Creighton in Waterloo, Iowa. In 1975, Creighton received his B.A. degree in political science from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Creighton’s first job was as an interviewer with the Pre-Trial Release Project for the Iowa Department of Corrections. He worked in community affairs and served as marketing director for the National Bank of Waterloo from 1978 to 1985.

At the age of thirty-one, Creighton decided to attend Drake Law School in Des Moines and obtained his J.D. degree in 1988. He then worked as a labor contract negotiator and consultant for the Iowa Department of Personnel. In 1989, Creighton became the deputy director of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. After six months, Iowa legislature passed the Riverboat Gambling Bill and gave the regulatory authority to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Creighton was responsible for writing the regulations for the riverboat gaming industry. The first casino opened in 1991, and Creighton became interested in pursuing a career in the gaming industry.

Creighton has held several positions within the gaming industry including Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission; an executive position with the Lady Luck in Natchez, Mississippi; general manager of the President Casinos in St. Louis, Missouri and vice president of operations for Bally’s Casino in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2002, Creighton became President of the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas. The MGM Mirage named Creighton President and COO of the New York New York Hotel and Casino in 2005, making Creighton the first African American property President on the Las Vegas’ strip. Creighton and his wife, Lisa, have five children.

Lorenzo Creighton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 4, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.122

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/4/2007

Last Name

Creighton

Maker Category
Middle Name

D.

Occupation
Schools

Longfellow Elementary School

Mckinstry Elementary School

Luther College

Drake University

First Name

Lorenzo

Birth City, State, Country

Waterloo

HM ID

CRE01

Favorite Season

None

State

Iowa

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

British Columbia

Birth Date

1/5/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Vancouver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue Ribs

Short Description

Gaming executive Lorenzo Creighton (1953 - ) became the first African American property president on the Las Vegas strip.

Employment

Department of Corrections

National Bank of Waterloo

State of Iowa

Iowa Civil Rights Commission

Illinois Departmen of Personnel

Illinois Racing Gaming Commission

Mississippi Gaming Commission

President Casinos

Bally’s Casino

Park Place Entertainment

Flamingo Hilton

New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Favorite Color

Gold

Timing Pairs
0,0:913,19:4648,143:9379,204:15936,340:17264,364:17762,371:23442,407:24086,414:25374,432:26110,441:30332,493:31736,519:32438,531:33608,552:34154,561:34700,570:35012,575:35558,583:36260,593:36572,598:36884,603:37274,609:38054,622:44302,696:45122,710:48320,819:52256,869:53732,887:58612,928:59151,936:60614,965:64965,1027:67440,1089:70890,1172:72465,1208:73215,1225:73815,1234:79590,1327:79890,1332:80640,1347:81240,1356:81765,1364:82815,1395:83190,1401:83490,1412:85140,1429:85515,1435:92175,1445:92565,1460:92825,1465:93475,1477:93930,1485:94905,1503:95230,1509:96205,1536:96855,1549:97375,1558:99390,1609:100950,1635:102380,1655:102705,1661:103615,1690:105110,1720:106280,1760:108620,1822:109400,1840:116441,1901:118926,1971:119494,1980:120204,1995:120559,2001:121269,2019:121837,2028:126474,2082:127234,2101:127614,2107:128146,2115:141340,2285$0,0:996,68:23008,419:27765,554:29038,573:29842,587:31785,624:32656,630:32991,636:33326,642:33728,649:39752,671:40220,678:42560,726:46070,800:46694,810:48410,843:60485,971:61759,984:79020,1225:88942,1438:89270,1443:89762,1450:90664,1463:90992,1468:101046,1559:112168,1761:112666,1768:119610,1814:120100,1822:121430,1859:128220,2050:128920,2061:132700,2155:139408,2212:140576,2237:140941,2243:141452,2252:142693,2285:166366,2638:167962,2679:169306,2697:175615,2749:179590,2837:180115,2845:191775,3022:193600,3062:196292,3100:196597,3106:203206,3240:205150,3269:208462,3342:227848,3746:230432,3804:235676,3969:242854,4017:244084,4037:246880,4067:256475,4256:263149,4453:267610,4501
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lorenzo Creighton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers his paternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls how his parents met and moved to Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his relationship with his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his neighborhood in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the Christmas traditions in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the black business community in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls the construction of a highway through his community

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his elementary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his secondary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about the race riots in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers his decision to pursue a college education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the Black Student Union at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers Principal Walter L. Cunningham

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls his experiences as a correctional officer

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers running for the Iowa House of Representatives

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers working at the National Bank of Waterloo in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about becoming a magistrate in Waterloo, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls his decision to attend Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about the Iowa Civil Rights Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his experiences at Drake University Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his duties at the Iowa Department of Personnel

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls working for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers developing riverboat gambling regulations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls his recruitment to the Mississippi Gaming Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers his move to Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his challenges at the Mississippi Gaming Commission

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the riverboat gambling regulations in Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers the economic conditions in Tunica, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls his transition to casino operations

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls operating the Lady Luck Natchez in Natchez, Mississippi

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton remembers the Bally's Casino and Lakeshore Resort in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about his role as vice president of community and government affairs

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls becoming the CEO of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the operations of the MGM Mirage

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the accommodations and clientele of the New York-New York Hotel and Casino

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton reflects upon the impact of Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton recalls rebuilding his secretary's home after Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about the impact of taxes on the gaming industry

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the community outreach programs at MGM Mirage

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about the MGM Mirage's international casinos

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lorenzo Creighton describes the employment challenges faced by former inmates

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about the MGM Mirage's scholarship programs

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his family

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lorenzo Creighton describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lorenzo Creighton shares his advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lorenzo Creighton reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lorenzo Creighton reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lorenzo Creighton talks about his organizational memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Lorenzo Creighton narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

2$8

DATitle
Lorenzo Creighton describes the black business community in Waterloo, Iowa
Lorenzo Creighton recalls rebuilding his secretary's home after Hurricane Katrina
Transcript
Now, who owned the businesses on the east side of town where you lived?$$It was the people from the west side, (laughter) you know, it was the people from the west side. African Americans didn't own any businesses but now they did own a few. It was one guy who had been there and his name was Cliff Smith [Clifford Smith], and he owned a business called Cliff's Supper Club [Waterloo, Iowa] that was, was famous because Cliff had actually come there in the '20s [1920s] or, you know, in the early '20s [1920s] and he opened up a restaurant. And his claim to fame was when African Americans came from other parts of the country, he would, he actually had a boardinghouse and a restaurant so he would kind of stake you until you got on your feet and then you could pay him back. And a lot of times he didn't get paid back but that's what he did. And then, and Cliff Smith died in the late '80s [1980s], and he was close to a hundred years old and we'd go and he still had his, his restaurant. And we'd go and we'd eat, you know, at his restaurant. And he had, you know, good old down home food, you know, the black eyed peas and the ham hocks. And, and so it was a, kind of a, you know, an old beat up part of town but everyone went to Cliff to hear the stories and to eat the food, and so he was kind of our historian.$$What stories do you remember that he might have told?$$You know, he would talk a lot about, you know, times when, you know, we would have influxes of African Americans and the tough times they had. But Cliff always had a positive attitude, he always had a great attitude. And his philosophy was, you know, don't get depressed about this, just overcome it. You know, and he would tell young people, you know, you go out and get an education and you do better for yourself. And you could, you always got a good feeling when you went to Cliff's Supper Club to eat. And it really was not a supper club, I mean it was a hole in the wall by the railroad track. It was still right next to the railroad yard where it had been originally. And, you know, he just told a lot of great stories about, you know, events in Waterloo [Iowa] and, you know, old sports stories about, you know, some of the sports legends who came through and just some great old stories.$My secretary never, and this is a story that I gotta tell, but I, I never, I didn't, I don't tell many people the story because I didn't do it for any kind of notoriety or anything (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Right.$$But I called her up one day and asked her how she was doing and she said, "Well, I got twenty-six cents in my pocket," and she has two kids and they were sleeping on the floor at various relatives' house and they were kind of rotating around, when they burnt out with one relative they go to another relative and but that's, I mean, that story is told thousands and thousands of times over. And it was about three weeks before Christmas and we as a family decided that we, we basically aren't gonna have Christmas, we're gonna, we're gonna spend the money to get my secretary's house put back together. She lived on the outskirts of the 9th Ward in a town called Violet, Louisiana. Fortunately her house was brick. And, now you understand it was Christmas of this, of, of '06 [2006]--$$Um-hm.$$--and, and her, it was totally destroyed interior wise, the roof had fallen in, the furniture was all jumbled up, the mold like you wouldn't believe, the walls had all fallen in but the brick structure was still there and the studs were still there. So went in, so what I did, is, I, I talked to my wife [Lisa Shaw Creighton] and I recruited my two brothers-in-laws and my eighteen year old stepson and the week and a half before Christmas we went down and we renovated her house. And we, I had help 'cause before I went down, I had some friends that I called up and I got someone to go in and, and put the roof back on. And another friend to go in and do the sheet rock and I paid 'em. And then we came in and we did the majority of the finish work. And, and my brothers-in-laws were real excited about doing it, both of 'em are very technical guys, you know, Ron [Ronald S. Shaw], and, and the other one is Chico [Chico Rhashiatry]. And both of 'em, you know, one is an engineer and the other, you know, does carpentry and electrical work and, and my son and I were just kind of the muscle to kind of get it all done and I know enough to be dangerous. So we went in and, and it was a challenge. And even the power company, which is bankrupt, couldn't even come out and hook up the power, we paid the power bill and they said, "Good luck we may get around to you." But we knew we needed power to get it done. So my brother-in-law got on the roof and connected the power. And we, we put down tile and we, we, we painted and we, you know, did the trim work and we put new doors on and, and we, by the time we left, our goal was, is to get her in the house, we were 90 percent complete. And we, we ended up getting some spot labor to help and we, we got her in the house. I got some, I recruited some of my friends here, one of my buddies bought her a, a refrigerator, another buddy bought a stove, somebody else bought a couch, and, so, you know, it, it, it really worked out and we got her back in. Now, the interesting story to back up, she had, she had told me the story about her grandmother, she was asking her grandmother before I called, she said, "What am I gonna do," she said, "I have no future, I have no chance, I don't know what to do, I don't know where, where my kids are gonna sleep, I have no money, I have no prospect to do anything." And she said, "I don't even have any clothes," she said when they left New Orleans [Louisiana] they left everything there. So she had like two outfits, she said, "I've been wearing 'em all year, I can't even go look for a job." And so my wife sent her, you know, a five hundred dollar gift certificate to go, you know, to go buy some clothes from one of the stores. And she said, she was embarrassed to tell me she said, "I even had to buy underthings, you know, with it, 'cause I had, you know, I had nothing." And but her, her grandmother told her to look at this verse in the Bible and she looked at this verse and it said, fast for twenty-one days and pray, and she swears this story is true. And on, and she said, and on the twenty-first day, you called me. You know, and she, she said her grandmother said, you know, "God, you know," she said like, "God put that in his mind," (laughter) so. So and hey, you know, and they, and they're firm believers in the story, so. So, but hey, but you know what and that's what it's about, you know, you gotta give back. I've been blessed so you gotta give back.