One of the principles Williams lives by is “to give back to the community in which you have prospered.” Numerous organizations and Las Vegas institutions have benefited from her generosity, among them the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She made a commitment to help advance education in the Las Vegas valley and was among a small group of residents who started the UNLV Foundation.
Very few women have owned and operated a major property in the casino industry. Claudine Barbara Williams is an exception. She learned every games of chance that she could as a teenager during the Great Depression and supported her mother and sister with her wages. She operated her own club in Texas before she was twenty-one years. She worked for Benny Binion in Dallas and Jake Friedman in Houston. By the time she and her husband Shelby Williams came to Las Vegas in 1963, they knew several of the developers of the burgeoning casino industry. They developed the Silver Slipper Casino and sold it Howard Hughes. Then they bought land across Caesars Palace and developed the Holiday Casino, which is the foundation for Harrah’s Hotel and Casino today. After Shelby’s death, she continued to improve the property until selling her interests in 1983 to Holiday Corporation. Williams is truly an original, in the history of gaming.
Claudine Williams: A Life in Gaming recounts her experiences in Louisiana, Texas, and Nevada literally coming of age in the world of gaming. The oral history has been edited for easy reading and includes a number of photo images from her personal collection that have never been published.