The Sahara hotel-casino in Las Vegas closes in May

Sahara Casino

LAS VEGAS – The Sahara Hotel & Casino, one of the few Rat Pack-era Las Vegas Strip resorts, is closing almost six decades after doing business with it.

Several other casinos from the early days of gambling in Sin City have been turned into new megastations, but the owners of the Sahara do not yet have a plan for ownership.

“Further exploitation of the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable,” said CEO Sam Nazarian of owner SBE Entertainment Group.

The property will close on May 16, officials said.

The Sahara, which opened in 1952, was featured in the 1960s ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ as one of five casinos stolen by a group of WWII veterans. Today, he’s offering 24-hour $ 1 blackjack and a six-pound burritos eating challenge at his NASCAR cafe. Nazarian said his company was considering options, including a complete renovation and repositioning.

Nazarian said MGM Resorts International was helping find jobs for affected workers and accommodations for customers who booked rooms after May 16. SBE officials declined to say how many people work in the Sahara.

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said the shutdown is part of Sin City’s lifecycle.

“While closing any hotel is sad, it is a natural and expected part of our great city’s history,” Murren said. “While today we stop to reflect on many memories and stories from his legendary past, like so many before him, there is a brighter future for this property. “

The two companies have an established business relationship.

Murren pointed out that the Desert Inn gave way to the Wynn Las Vegas, the Dunes becoming the Bellagio, Aladdin being renovated into Planet Hollywood, and the original Las Vegas Sands giving way to the Venetian. And, when Murren’s company built the $ 8.7 billion CityCenter, it used the land that had occupied the Coney Island-themed Bordwalk.

Phil Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island in Las Vegas, said redeveloping the Sahara would be good for the Strip, but predicted SBE would struggle to secure funding.

“I hope we will live this long – I don’t see it for a long time,” he said. “I would like that to happen but I don’t think it’s something imminent.”

Ruffin said the Sahara neighborhood looked “very bad”.

The unfinished multibillion dollar development of Fontainebleau which has filed for bankruptcy court protection is nearby. Billionaire Carl Icahn, who ultimately bought the property, sold his furniture to a casino on the California-Nevada border and did not say when construction could resume.

There is no guarantee that anything glamorous will emerge. The former Landmark Hotel site, which imploded in 1995 in the movie “Mars Attacks”, now houses a parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center. After the Stardust was razed in 2007 for Boyd Gaming Corp. could build its $ 4.8 billion Echelon complex, the project came to a halt. And a $ 5 billion complex that was supposed to replace the New Frontier never materialized.

Sahara initially hinted that the change was underway on the same day that CityCenter’s flagship casino, Aria, opened with 4,000 rooms in 2009. That’s when Sahara announced. that he was putting bedrooms on hold in two of his towers for the winter season.

But Nazarian called the northern end of the Strip, which includes the Sahara, “the future of Las Vegas.”

“With Las Vegas showing the first signs of recovery, we are confident that we will eventually find a new, creative and comprehensive solution for this historic property,” said Nazarian.

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About Angelita A. Blanchard

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