The King’s Castle

How’s this for a great shot from the early ’70s? This postcard is from Reno Tahoe Specialty, Inc.

Nate Jacobson built the King’s Castle Casino at Incline Village (Lake Tahoe), Nevada after selling his part of Caesars Palace in 1969. A former insurance salesman, broker, and owner, Jacobson faced charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to the sale of Caesars Palace in 1969.

His club at the lake ran into issues soon after taking a Teamsters loan to build the property, and they continued as the small casino struggled to get a foothold in a resort community that especially in the early 1970s was quite seasonal. When the snow flew, so did most of the tourists. Sure, there were skiers at Incline, but historically at both north and south shores of Lake Tahoe, the skiers were there to ski, not gamble.

Jacobson moved to the Lake from Las Vegas in 1968 after selling his Baltimore Bullets NBA basketball team, turning his insurance agency over to his sons, and leaving his job as President and CDO of Desert Palace, Inc. (Caesars Palace).

What Jacobson built at Incline Village was complete with medieval castle motif including walls, turrets and an indoor dinner theater named Camelot.  Outside, the grounds held a full-size Lady Godiva on a horse and four palace guards.

Who You Gonna Trust?

Unfortunately, real guards inside the casino were not as trustworthy as they might have been.  One problem leading to the casino’s closure in 1972 was a general lack of honesty.  Workers in several areas of the club were stealing from inside.  Two security guards even had keys to the drop boxes from the blackjack tables.  When the boxes went to the soft-count room in an elevator, the guards would help themselves to a few hundred dollars each night.  They got caught because one of them accidentally took a “fill-slip” along with his nightly cut.

When the club closed, 500 workers lost their jobs. The chips from the club went into the hands of several managers, one of whom was supposed to dump them in the lake. He didn’t make it there with all the chips, which is nice for collectors.

The club reopened in 1974 and lasted less than a year under Judd McIntosh.  Later, Jimmie Hume took charge of managing the club for a year or so until it was purchased by Hyatt Hotels in May of 1975.

Hyatt brought in Jack Hardy as general manager, and he oversaw the renovation and reopening of the property, and since that time, the club has been successfully run as the Hyatt Regency at Incline-Village.

26 thoughts on “The King’s Castle

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  1. Cool blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design.


  2. Hey I am so grateful I found your weblog, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Aol for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a fantastic post and a all round exciting blog


  3. Admiring the time and effort you put into your website and in depth information you present. It's nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same outdated rehashed material. Great read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.


    1. Sorry for your loss. I’m happy that you found a medallion from the casino, it was a fun place and I’m sure he enjoyed it.


  4. Was there in Feb 1974, but I was only 19 and couldn’t gamble of course, but I and my friend both enjoyed looking. Being from Texas, we took the long drive in a CJ5 Jeep; the lake and casino was a treat for us both.


  5. I was a 21 dealer at the King’s Castle back in the 1970’s. I have so many stories about Nate Jacobson and how He treated his workers! I was there the night King’s Castle announced that the Casino is shutting down! Players were told they better cash their chips in while there is still money left! I had a call the next morning from a fellow dealer telling me that I better get down to the Cashier’s cage and cash my paycheck as they are running out of money and were down to only dollar bills! I got dressed and rushed down to the Kings Castle… check came to about $200+ dollars. They ran out of money and I only got about $30! The State took over and I finally got back only about $40 dollars more. Ah, the good ol days!


      1. I remember the name, Selman……..did not know him.  Nate used to parade around the King’s Castle with his girlfriends!  I remember one night he was arguing with one of his girls.  She was a very pretty Asian girl dripping in Mink!  Nate became very vocal, calling her the vilest of names, I mean, filthy language.  She was very calm and tried to calm him down!  The entire Casino Pit area was dead silent listening to him yell at her.  I even remember the standard rule was to never look Nate directly at him as an employee, if you did, you were immediately fired!  He was a vile man!


  6. ill never forget the kings castle i produced a live network tv show from the lake and inside the castle. tex williams and kay austin stared along with many other stars program is still in some re-runs even 6- years later wow was a great place. worked as a broker for wyndham in hawaii in 2003 a lot of years. thanks for the memories don long


  7. I just finished reading, “A Bold Gamble at Lake Tahoe: Crime and Corruption in a Casino’s Evolution”, and it was quite fascinating. My memory of this property starts from the 1980s when the Hyatt Corporation owned the property.


  8. This was my first job in high school in 1970 and 71. I was a maid, and then worked as “3rd chef” in the kitchen making salads, and prepping for the chefs. The owner, or whoever it was that said he was the owner came on to me and said he would give me a raise and a better position if I took a ride in his helicopter with him. I was too naive at age 16 and 17 at the time to think it was a “me too” moment. I declined because I was afraid of helicopters.


  9. I saw a show (circa 1971, with my parents, I was about 14) at the King’s Castle. The headliner was Don Adams of “Get Smart” fame. He did what struck me as a Don Rickles-style comedy act. More unexpected were the two opening acts. First, a pre-teen boy who sang and danced–his act seemed patterned on young Michael Jackson. We were sitting near the stage, and he put the mic in front of me to sing along on “Land of the Thousand Dances.” I recall an announcement about this show being videotaped for broadcast, and I think Merv Griffin’s name was evoked, but I never saw it nor do I remember the singer’s name. Then there was the regular opener, another singer, a woman in a sparkly dress. She sang a kind of music in which my 14-year-old self had no previous interest–it seemed old fashioned. And yet, something powerful was going on with this singer, and I have marveled at that feeling all of these years. The opening act for Don Adams was Sarah Vaughan. If anybody knows anything about this show–dates, the name of that kid singer–I’d love to hear it.


  10. I worked real hard in that time they closed it we were left with no paycheck totally nothing i had to give up my my apartment and the kids and m,y ex loaded up the car and drove to vegas. broke broke broke thanks to the management of kings castle. but we came up and built a better life. no thanks to the crooks who cheated us of our hard earned money.


    1. Hi Xenia, I was there too when it shut down. I was a bit luckier that night as I was told to go to the cashier’s cage with my paycheck. I was paid about half of it in 1$ bills! I called Allen Whitcomb, a dealer friend early the next morning to tell him to go immediately to the Cage and cash your check. It was too late they were out of Money! We had the chance to fill out some form about our loss. I did get a very small check from someone, don’t remember who now, but I ended up with half my paycheck and nothing more………….boy were those the days!


  11. I was a 21 dealer at the King’s Castle, when it first opened. I was a dealer at the Cal-Neva at the time, and passed the audition quickly at the King’s Castle. I have so many first hand stories about the King’s Castle and Nate Jacobson. I remember so many of the Dealers at that time. Jason, are you still with us? I would love to hear from any other past Dealers from the Castle. Please contact me here…………..Name on my “name badge” was “Tony”……….my full name is Tony Calcagno…..I still have my “Green” shirt and name tag from the Castle, hanging in my closet! I was dealing the night they came in and shut it down. Please contact me…..if you are still around…..we need to catch up with all those memories…………………take care………………Tony C.


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