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Philanthropist Fulton often helps out Hancock

August 31, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK - Since leaving Hancock more than 30 years ago, Stanley Fulton Jr. has founded gaming equipment companies, opened casinos, acquired a racetrack and built a gaming empire that he sold for $340 million, but through it all, he hasn't forgotten the small town where he grew up.

Hancock Town Manager David Smith said that when he called Fulton in June to ask for funding to repair the town's swimming pool, the wealthy former resident asked what he could do to help Hancock recover from the devastating economic effects of layoffs and factory closures in the town.

"He said, 'Hancock was very good to my family. I've been very fortunate in life and I'd like to do something to give back,'" Smith said.

Fulton's $900,000 gift that enabled the town to purchase the former Fleetwood plant was not his first contribution to the town, former Hancock Town Manager Louis Close said. His previous donations include $50,000 in 1996 for an elevator in the new town hall, about $35,000 in 1999 for a new gymnasium at Hancock Middle-Senior High school, $50,000 in 2000 to help restore a historic tollhouse west of town, $10,000 to school sports programs and $10,000 toward a youth center, Close said.

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"He's helped the town of Hancock quite a bit in the last 20 years," Close said.

Fulton grew up in Hancock and graduated from Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy, a prep school about 30 miles northeast of Hancock, in 1949. His father, Stanley M. Fulton, had extensive orchard holdings in the Hancock area and owned a petroleum business, a bottled gas company, an appliance store and several of the first cable television companies in the region, according to The Herald-Mail's archives.

"They were very well-respected in town," Close said.

Fulton followed his father into the cable TV business before setting off to make his fortune in Las Vegas, according to a 2001 profile printed in Panorama, the alumni publication of New Mexico State University, after Fulton donated more than $2 million to the school. According to that article, Fulton enrolled in college as a pre-med student, but a math professor encouraged him to "get back into business where you belong" and to give back to others once he was successful.

Fulton started Anchor Gaming in 1989 with a contract to place slot machines in small roadside markets in the Las Vegas area, then expanded the company by opening a series of casinos in Colorado, according to an October 2000 story in The Los Angeles Times. In 1997, Fulton was listed as No. 51 on the list of the 59 most compensated chief executives in the gaming industry, The Los Angeles Times reported.

One of Anchor Gaming's biggest claims to fame is its role in developing the Wheel of Gold, a money-wheel slot machine inspired by the "Wheel of Fortune" game show. It remains one of the most popular slot machines ever designed, according to slotshero.com.

In 2000, Fulton retired from Anchor Gaming, selling his family's share of the company for about $340 million, The Los Angeles Times reported. Fulton remained on board as a consultant and retained ownership of the Sunland Park Race Track and Casino in New Mexico.

In recent years, Fulton has continued to attract attention as a philanthropist, donating millions to several colleges and universities. He also has invested heavily in racehorses, including one he entered in the Kentucky Derby in 2006.

A few years into his retirement, Fulton told New Mexico State University he had two remaining goals in life: "To make Sunland Park a world-class operation and to give away a lot of money."




Meet Hancock's benefactor

Name: Stanley Fulton Jr.

Age: 77

Birthplace: Cumberland, Md.

Residence: Las Vegas

Current position: Owner, Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, New Mexico; consultant, Anchor Gaming

Former positions: Founder and former chairman, Anchor Gaming; founder, Fortune Coin (later International Game Technology); chairman and president, Alliance Gaming; founder of cable television companies in Maryland, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Virginia

Source: "Finding the Spotlight" by Amy Owens, printed June 29, 2002, in "Thoroughbred Times."

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