Pioneer Casino Owner and Entrepreneur Don Barden Dies

The Detroit icon passed away at age 67.

Posted: 05/19/2011 11:50 AM EDT
Pioneer Casino Owner and Entrepreneur, Don Barden Dies

Don Barden, the first African-American to own a Las Vegas casino and first to own a cable franchise, died Thursday morning after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 67 years old.


Don was a stalwart leader and businessman in this community, as well as a friend," Detroit Mayor David Bing said in a statement. "We were aware of his longtime illness and dreaded this day. We send our condolences to his family."


Barden was the owner, chairman and chief executive officer of Barden Companies Inc. and the Majestic Star and Fitzgerald's casinos and hotels. The famous Detroiter was one of the top African-American entrepreneurs in the county with a career spanning over 40-years in entertainment, casinos and real estate development. Barden’s companies’ annual revenues ranged from $600,000 to $519 million.


In 1979 he started Barden Cablevision and built it into one of the nation’s largest Black-owned businesses; he later sold it to Comcast. He became the first Black person to own a Las Vegas casino in 2001.


In addition to his numerous awards, in November Barden received the lifetime achievement award at the Michigan Chronicle’s 75th anniversary gala.


(Photo: Andre J. Jackson/Landov)