In 1946, Willie Martello came to Searchlight. He purchased the Wheatley Hotel, and remodeled it into a casino/restaurant. Renaming it the El Rey Club after a favored beer, Martello proceeded to change Searchlight history.
Martello's new club offered gourmet meals, casino table fames and slot machines, live nightly entertainment, and dancing. Martello added new amenities as possible, including the first in-ground pool in Searchlight. He also had an airstrip built just south of town, and sponsored junket flights from California to bring in customers.
Martello's club burned in 1962. With outside funding, Martello rebuilt the El Rey Resort, but passed away in 1968. During his time in Searchlight, the El Rey Resort was the place to stop, relax, have a meal, and enjoy the entertainment. He provided significant support for the small community during his time here, and helped Searchlight to continue to be "the camp that didn't fail."