Isle of Capri founder opened first U.S. riverboat in 1991

Bernard Goldstein, founder and chairman of Isle of Capri Casinos, died on Sunday. He was 80 years old.

“Bernie was a true visionary, an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Isle CEO James B. Perry. “He founded and built this company with his outstanding dedication and constant desire to help improve communities and create good jobs. He will be missed dearly by his family, friends and those who knew him, but his legacy will live on each day through the thousands of individuals who proudly go to work in a company Bernie built.”

Born in Rock Island, Ill., and raised in the Quad Cities area, Goldstein had a successful career in scrap metal recycling, river freight transportation and affiliated businesses before entering the casino industry. He became a pivotal figure in lobbying for the original legislation for riverboat gaming in Iowa and opened the first riverboat casino in the United States, the M/V Diamond Lady, in Bettendorf, Iowa, in 1991. He went on to found Casino America, and in 1992 opened the first riverboat casino in the South, Isle of Capri, in Biloxi, Miss.

As chief executive officer and chairman he shepherded Isle’s growth into a publicly traded, multi-state company recognized as one of the industry’s leading operators.

He also served as chairman and president of Casino Cruises, which opened and managed the Par-A-Dice Riverboat Casino in Peoria, Ill., through March 1993.

He retired from his role as Isle CEO in 2008.

In addition to his gaming interests Goldstein served as chairman of the board of Goldstein Group, whose companies include Alter Barge Line, Alter Trading, River/Gulf Grain Company and Green Bridge Company.

He is survived by his wife, Renee, four children and nine grandchildren.