Neither a sleigh nor a chimney was used but the founder of the Colorado River gaming town of Laughlin played Santa Claus Tuesday, unwrapping a multi-million dollar Christmas gift as an expression of thanks to Bullhead City, Arizona. Don Laughlin and his associates conveyed title to his remotely located Chief Mountain retreat to Bullhead City.
The pristine property located in the Black Mountains of Arizona features more than 1,120 acres, a cabin, a safehouse or bunker, a helipad and a one-acre lake stocked with fish. Laughlin used the property valued at $7.7-million seven miles outside Bullhead City as a getaway, and said he wanted to give it to a community that provided labor and customers for his successful Riverside Resort & Casino.
“This donation will allow Bullhead City to use these facilities and benefit the community for decades to come,” Laughlin told City Council members. “I’ve always said I made it (money) here. I want to spend it here. Happy holidays to Bullhead City.”
Laughlin reflected that January marks the 50th anniversary of his opening of the Riverside that originally featured eight guest rooms. Today, he said the property boasts more than 1,400 rooms, 720 RV spaces and 1,900 employees.
Mayor Tom Brady said he’s been impressed with Laughlin for more than 30 years.
“I watched Don Laughlin help this city grow. He has been a phenomenal partner in everything that has happened in Bullhead City,” Brady said. The mayor detailed millions of dollars worth of donations by Laughlin over the years, including airport acreage and flood control funding, a bridge that spans the river and another ranch that was given to Mohave Community College.
“Mr. Laughlin has been truly a pioneer in our tri state area and he’s committed to the growth in our area,” Brady said. “I think this city will forever be grateful.”
City Manager Toby Cotter said terms of the deal require Bullhead City to hold the land for at least five years. Cotter said the City can later sell the property or trade it to the Bureau of Land Management for parcels that the BLM holds closer to Bullhead City.
Cotter said an unbelievable view is afforded from the property.
“Words cannot describe how magnificent of a view there is from the top of the Black Mountain Range. You can see Lake Mohave all the way to Needles, California,” Cotter said. “That is no exaggeration. The view is, well, there’s nothing like it. You can also see almost all of Laughlin and Bullhead City.”