Richard “Pick” Hobson was born in Illinois on May 15, 1911. He headed west in 1929, eventually landing in Reno where he worked as a dealer at the Palace Club. After gaining some experience, and some friends, Pick invested his cash in a gaming operation at the Colombo Club at 244 Lake Street, inside the Colombo Hotel. The Toscano Hotel, just down the street, housed advertising for Pick’s clubs for years, reminding those driving by, to visit his other casinos.
Joe Hobson, Pick’s brother, joined him in a casino located in the tiny town of Hawthorne, Nevada during the Second World War, when the munitions facility was in full swing. Also in full swing were the constantly fighting service men in town, working at the munitions facility. The Pick returned to Reno in 1943 and opened “Pick’s Club,” which reopened in 1946 as the Frontier Club when Joe invested in the casino at 220 North Virginia Street.
The casino featured a bar, craps, 21, and roulette, plus a race-horse book. A bingo hall was added in 1948, and 30 slot machines were brought-in by Virgil Smith. Later a Keno game was added and the table games expanded. By 1956 when the club was sold to Bill Harrah, there were 172 slot machines.
Harrah paid nearly $1 million for the casino, and part of his purchase price was a stipulation that Hobson would not operate another casino for three years. In 1960, Pick purchased the Overland Hotel, just around the corner on Commercial and Center Street. The club backed-up to his old Lake Street casino.
In 1970, Pick purchased the Cosmo Club, which he operated for four years until it was closed so he could expand the Overland. At the same time, Pick was operating the Gold Club in Sparks, and the Topaz Lodge at the California State Line.
Once again, Bill Harrah came knocking, offering to lease the Overland, but the hotel and casino immediately closed and the property was demolished in June 1977. The Cosmo Club was also demolished, and Harrah purchased the Riverside hotel casino from Jessie Beck and traded it to Hobson in exchange for the Overland and Cosmo Club land.
Pick Hobson was the last owner of the Riverside casino, which closed in December 1986. An auction of slots and memorabilia from the Riverside and the Overland was held, and the hotel closed in November 1987. Pick moved to Portola, California soon afterwards. He passed away August 19, 1996, always remembered as a very congenial boss who did his best to take care of his employees.