Hotel Apache

Posted by junketseo in Las Vegas Ghost Tours
Hotel Apache - Photo

The glitz and glam of Las Vegas welcome travelers from all over the world. High-end restaurants, premium entertainment, and lavish accommodations make it an undeniable go-to tourist spot. When you cut through all that shimmer, you’re left with a shell of Sin City, molded by years of dark history swept under the rug. 


Hotel Apache at Binion’s sits near the heart of Glitter Gulch in Downtown Vegas, where the city first took shape. Names like Lester Ben “Benny” Binion, the hotel’s proprietor, are legends in Vegas’ history. Their presence aids the city’s progress and unusually high body count. If you’re looking to dig at the roots of haunted Vegas, Binion’s past and his namesake property are as good a place to start. 


Despite being a relatively young city in United States history, Las Vegas has racked up quite a dense supernatural energy and an alarming body count. While spectral stains may flood many of the hotels and resorts of Downtown Vegas and the Strip, Hotel Apache at Binion’s has a remarkably potent thickness, a manifestation of the darkness clouding Benny Binion’s legacy and decades’ worth of unfortunate souls who checked in and simply never checked out.


What ghosts lurk through the haunted halls of Hotel Apache?

The guest register may be too crowded to rattle off names, but we squeeze in a few of them. Discover more of Sin City’s most haunted locations on a bone-chilling Las Vegas ghost tour.


Benny Binion, the Terror of Texas


Decades before the Stratosphere cast its long shadow over Las Vegas Boulevard, the city was already living under the shadow of a giant. His name was Lester Ben Binion, known by many as Benny Binion. Born in Pilot Grove, Texas, Binion grew up under a horse trader, often traveling with his father from the county fair to the county fair. 


There were no smartphones or Walkmans to keep young Binion entertained, so he took up a favored pastime among traders — gambling. Little did the elder Binion know that Benny’s interest in gambling would go on to shape his son’s life and ultimately put an end to others.


While Benny’s life was mostly riddled with criminal activity, having landed on the FBI’s radar as early as 1924, it started with moonshining in Texas during Prohibition; the worst of his actions didn’t seem to emerge until the early ‘30s when he shot and killed Frank Bolding, a rum runner. Five years later, he allegedly shot racketeer Ben Frieden after feeling the pressure of encroachment on his grounds. 


Though Binion ultimately secured a firm grasp in Dallas, city officials and newly elected politicians sought to clean the state up and rid it of more illicit activities. As the wind was shifting for Benny Binion, he knew he’d have to set his sights on somewhere a little more progressive and malleable.


Welcome to Las Vegas


Though Binion’s gambling was illegal in Texas, the Nevada desert was ready to welcome him with open arms. Eyeing up the Hotel Apache and Eldorado Club in Downtown Vegas, Binion saw the potential. 


In 1951, he shut down the Hotel Apache and merged it with Eldorado to create the Horseshoe Casino, a gambler-friendly establishment with no bet limits, and served free alcohol to draw in a crowd. It was a joint that simplified the formula other casinos were overcomplicating, swapping out ornate decor and dressy dealers for a basic interior and blue jeans. 


As simple as things were inside the Horseshoe, life for Benny Binion was less so, mostly of his own doing. During his years in Vegas, Binion was allegedly responsible for the attempted murder of Herbert “the Cat” Noble, a former Dallas rival, and the death of Noble’s wife in a separate car bombing incident.


No one could ever place Binion as the perpetrator, but the Texas gangster had his suspicions. In retaliation, Noble planned to bomb his rival’s Las Vegas home via airplane, only for police to intervene at the last second. Ultimately, Noble didn’t survive his feud with Binion, though no evidence ever linked the new casino owner to the Lewisville, Texas, mailbox explosion that took the Cat’s final life.


While there is little doubt that Binion wasn’t behind Noble’s death, it wasn’t the last time that the Vegas career criminal would closely associate with the Reaper himself. The longer Binion stayed in Vegas, the more his booming casino filled with the restless specters of his victims. 


Haunted Hotel Apache Murders


You can credit Binion with being a father of Las Vegas, having built the first hotel in Downtown Vegas with an air-conditioned lobby and electric elevator. However, the accolades of helping establish a thriving city in the middle of nowhere don’t get rid of the bodies he buried beneath its framework. 


With the mob running Vegas, death was commonplace, and Binion’s hands certainly weren’t clean. It would be impossible to list every murder Binion ordered but talk to the ghosts lingering around Binion’s Hotel Apache, and you may meet a few familiar with the Texas native’s handiwork. 


One spirit may be that of cab driver Marvin Shumate, who was widely believed to have fallen victim to Binion’s revenge. Before his 1967 murder, Shumate was involved in the kidnapping plot of Ted Binion, Benny’s youngest son. Known to be Binion’s favorite, Ted became the target of a ransom scheme devised by two cab drivers looking to score a hefty ransom. 


Shumate was one of the drivers, and his unnamed partner-in-crime tipped Benny off.  The cab driver’s murder was never officially solved, but few would point their finger at anyone else but Binion. 


Five years after Shumate’s death, Binion was linked to the murder of former FBI head and local attorney Bill Coulthard. His federal link didn’t put a target on Coulthard’s back. It was his ownership stake in the land Binion built the Horseshoe on. When a car bomb killed the attorney in July 1972, all eyes shifted toward Binion. 


Again, the casino’s owner walked free despite a solid motive, as Coulthard didn’t plan to renew the land lease. 


The Ghosts of the Hotel Apache


People die in Vegas. It’s inevitable for any city that filters in millions of visitors annually. People like Binion just add to the numbers and, at the same time, the countless ghosts trapped in venues like the Hotel Apache. 


The Hotel Apache, Binion’s hotel space, may have undergone renovations and changed the style of many of its rooms. Still, all of that spectral energy remains, tied to its nefarious proprietor’s long and complicated history. 


Binion’s is one of the few locations in Las Vegas that acknowledge its haunted nature. The establishment gathered fascinating encounters as told by guests, like the child laugh heard next to Room 246, the unwelcoming spirit in Room 263, or the mischievous pest that toys with guests in Room 373. Could one of those spirits be that of Marvin Shumate or Bill Coulthard, two of Binion’s alleged targets? Or is it some of the nameless many that Binion’s likely killed, either to protect his hotel or squash rivalries? 


It could even be Ted, Binion’s favorite son, who met an untimely demise in September 1998 when he allegedly overdosed on Xanax. His death had a fairly cut-and-dry cause until his girlfriend, Sandy Murphy, and her lover, Rick Tabish, were accused of killing the magnate’s son. Could the acquittal of all murder charges have caused Ted to become so active in his father’s former hotel? Maybe it’s one of Binion’s daughters, Barbara, who died of an overdose in 1983.


Who haunts the Hotel Apache is a question for the ages, but it’s nothing a thorough Las Vegas Ghost Tour couldn’t get to the bottom of.       


Care to uncover more about the mysteries of Las Vegas haunts and the Hotel Apache at Binion’s? Then visit our blog and check out our socials on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Don’t miss out on an unforgettable evening — book your Las Vegas ghost tour!