Richard A. “Skip” Hayward, a visionary for tribal gaming, is one of five inductees into the Gaming Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. He joins the league this year along with John Acres, a gaming-technology pioneer; Lyle Berman, an instrumental catalyst in the development of casinos, now commonplace in 40 states nationwide; Don Brinkerhoff, the architect who designed many of Las Vegas’ iconic landmarks; and Redenia Gilliam-Mosee, the first African-American casino vice president in Atlantic City.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) considers this distinction the industry’s highest honor. More than 80 people have been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame since its inception in 1989. The AGA will honor the new inductees at an invitation-only ceremony on the evening of Wednesday, September 28 at The Venetian as part of its annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E). G2E takes place September 26-29 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and attracts as many as 25,000 attendees.
Skip Hayward served as tribal chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe for 23 years, from 1975, the first tribal election, until November 1, 1998. Hayward and his family are responsible for securing the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s reservation after his grandmother and final reservation resident Elizabeth George died in 1973. Hayward also re-established the Mashantucket Pequots as a tribal community and subsequenty earned the tribe federal recognition. He also lead the tribe out of poverty in the 1970s and 1980s, eventually opening Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest gaming facility in the country.
Hayward started a very successful high-stakes bingo operation in 1986. After the Cabazon ruling in 1987 and the passage of IGRA in 1988, the nation began its pursuit of a casino. By 1993, the bingo operation had evolved into the full-fledged Foxwoods Resort Casino. Hayward had envisioned Foxwoods as the first world-class, family-oriented destination resort casino. “That was a tremendous credit to him and where he wanted it to grow,” Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Rodney A. Butler has told ICTMN.
“Clearly, we would not be here today without the remarkable dedication and commitment of our early leadership and that goes back to Skip Hayward,” Butler has said. “His willingness to stand up and fight for Indian rights in the 1970s and again in the 1980s on Indian gaming can’t be underscored enough. Clearly we wouldn’t be here without his persistence and efforts.”