Sahara Hotel and Casino Closed

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The Sahara Hotel and Casino is having it last operating day, today. Opened in 1952, the Sahara was the sixth resort to open in Las Vegas. The Sahara has a storied history, that may be at an end. No word yet as to the final plans for the property, just that is no longer ‘economically viable’ to keep it open.

In 1952 casino developer Milton Prell opened the Sahara Casino. It was built by developer Del Webb, who’s company ,Dell Web, would purchase the Sahara in 1961. It would be sold again in 1982 to Paul Lowden (Archon Corporation) who ran it until 1995. In 1995 the property would be sold to Bill Bennett, who owned it until his death in 2002. The Bill Bennett Family Trust would sell the property in 2007 to Sam Nazarian and Stockbridge Real Estate Group. On March 11, 2011 SBE Holdings announced that the property would cease operations and close on May 16, 2011.

With almost 60 years in Las Vegas, the Sahara Hotel and Casino has seen some history. As one of the first resorts in the area, it has seen many others come and go. It has seen many famous names, performers at the resort included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Paul Anka, George Carlin, Liza Minnelli, Violetta Villas, Shirley Bassey, Imogene Coca, Connie Francis, Bill Cosby, Jeanette MacDonald, Ann-Margret, Joey Bishop, Don Rickles, Bobby Darin, and many others.

The resort was the venue for the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for several years in the 70’s and 90’s. The 1960’s version of Ocean’s Eleven was filmed at the Sahara Hotel and Casino. The hotel itself has seen a 24 story constructed in 1963, a larger 27 story tower added in 1987, and in 1999 a roller coaster and NASCAR restaurant.

With all the glory that has been the Sahara Hotel and Casino, it seem the shimmer has faded. Considered by many of the regulars as the only hotel to stay at in Las Vegas, the owners can’t make a profit. It is unclear as to the exact financial condition of the company, but they are not willing to continue to run the resort.

The final chapter is still unwritten for the Sahara. Will the building be reopened? Imploded? Sold? , who knows. We will find out soon enough what is to come of this Las Vegas landmark.

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