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Historic Sahara Casino to Close in May

16 March 2011 by admin

The Moroccan themed brick and mortar casino has been an iconic part of the Las Vegas Strip. It was also the last remaining haunt of the Rat Pack; other Rat Pack haunts, Sands, Dune, Stardust, New Frontier and others, have been not only shut down but imploded as well to make way for the larger, newer destination style resort casinos that are now popular on the Vegas Strip. Thankfully, the Sahara will be spared that fate.

But the iconic casino will be closing its doors on May 16th. According to the owner of SBE Entertainment, the company who owns the Sahara, it was “no longer economically viable” for the Sahara’s doors to remain open, citing the downward turn of Nevada’s gambling economy. Now the 1,050 employees will have to find new jobs in a struggling economy, although some who have been with the Sahara since Del Webb bought the casino hotel in 1961 will retire once it closes its doors.

Despite the fate of other classic Strip casinos, the Sahara is not facing a fate of being imploded. Instead SBE will simply wait while exploring various options to do with the eighteen acre property. SBE CEO, Sam Nazarian, said, “We are working with our partners to assess a variety of options for the property, including a complete renovation and repositioning. While no final decisions have been made at this point, the continued operation of the again Sahara as no longer economically viable.”

Now speculation abounds as to what happened since SBE bought the Sahara in 2007. There were plans to implode one of its towers among other renovations but the financing fell through. And it seems to have gone downhill from there. Some analysts think that SBE will revamp the Sahara once economic conditions improve and turn it into another of its SLS hotels like the ones in Miami and Beverly Hills.

Some speculation runs a bit strong and points a finger at SBE with the idea that they never had any intentions of revitalizing the Sahara as it was, but to merely turn the casino hotel into a ritzy destination. One such gaming speculator said, “SBE’s intent all along was to spend a bunch of money and turn the Sahara into a hot spot. They just decided to close it and wait out until they get the financing.”

And that speculation matches up with the facts that the original source of renovation financing fell through and that SBE is just going to let the eighteen acres sit empty indefinitely. And while I personally do not agree with taking of a historic gambling icon to turn it into a modern ritzy destination and nightclub, it seems as though SBE is fine with closing the Sahara and hanging on to it, hoping that it will pass from people’s memories, until they can build the flashy modern scene it wants for the property. Such a sad ending for Las Vegas’ last remaining casino from the good old gambling days.

The Sahara will continue to operate and fulfill the needs and reservations of its guests until May 16th. For those with reservations after May 16th, the Sahara will help those guests to find Strip accommodations elsewhere.

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