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VIDEO VAULT | Primm used to be the name of a family, not a place

State Line Exit.PNG

The last stop on I-15 before California is Primm, of course. But long-timers remember there were casinos and a little housing there when Primm was just the name of a family, not of a location.

Things were changing when Channel-3 aired live report from the town twenty-two years ago.

“But Scott Andrus is here to tell us that lottery players don't really have to go quite as far anymore. Scott?” tossed anchor Sarah Hoeveler in 1995.

“For Gary Primm, the man who owns both Whiskey Pete's Casino and the Primmadonna Casino here at Stateline” began Andrus.

“State Line” was the name on the sign, for a community first envisioned on the California border in 1954 by Ernest J. Primm, who had pioneered poker rooms in Gardenam, California. He’d even gotten involved in that city's politics. Perhaps when his Rainbow Poker Club was mysteriously bombed in 1960, it made non-controversial gambling in Nevada that much more attractive. The unincorporated community that became home to Whiskey Pete’s and Primmadonna casinos was known by a pragmatic name. Eventually an interchange and sign went in.

Note that in the live report, Channel 3 spelled it wrong, with no space between State and Line, the only differential from a sound-alike up north -- and part of the impetus for a new name.

“Company officials hope it will get rid of any confusion with the other Stateline at Tahoe, and boost its image,” reported News 3’s Mary Pae.

The initial choice for a new name came from one of the casinos rather than the family.

“Since the county commissioners have okayed the name change from State Line to Primmadonna, the next step is to have the state board of geographic names approve it as well,” continued Pae, “Before you see any of those signs coming down.”

What the state finally approved—Primm—was music to the ears of Gary Primm, son of the founder.

“We're just very happy with it and it's going to take some getting used to,” said Primm spokesman Daniel Shumney. “But we're here for the long term. And I think it will be good for the development.”

Actually, the Primm family finally sold out to MGM in 1999, and today the three resorts there are owned by Affinity Gaming.

Primm is not the only Southern Nevada town named after its casino owner-founder. We'll talk about Laughlin in a future Video Vault.

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