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Subject: Ralph L. Engelstad, 72, Casino Entrepreneur

Las Vegas
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Date Posted: November 28, 2002 2:23:20 EDT

Ralph Louis Engelstad, a Las Vegas and Mississippi casino entrepreneur, died on Tuesday night at his home here. He was 72.

The cause was lung cancer, his family said.

Mr. Engelstad was best known as the owner of the Imperial Palace on the Strip, which he built and opened on the site of the Flamingo Capri Motel in 1979. He developed another Imperial Palace in Biloxi, Miss. He also built the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which he later sold.

Forbes magazine listed him in the 1990's as among the nation's richest people.

Mr. Engelstad, who graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1954, was a goaltender on the university's hockey team from 1948 to 1950. He financed the $100 million hockey arena that bears his name on the campus.

Mr. Engelstad was also known for giving parties for employees of the Las Vegas Imperial Palace to celebrate Hitler's birthday. Bartenders at the parties wore shirts bearing the Nazi dictator's picture and the slogan, "Adolf Hitler European Tour 1939-45." Mr. Engelstad apologized for the parties, calling them "not only stupid, but insensitive."

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