Las Vegas' Sahara Hotel and Casino closing after more than 58 years
The Sahara Hotel and Casino opened in 1952. The landmark’s final guest is scheduled to check out around noon Monday.
May 16th, 2011
07:40 AM ET

Las Vegas' Sahara Hotel and Casino closing after more than 58 years

The Sahara Hotel and Casino, a fixture on the Las Vegas Strip since 1952, closes Monday for good.

The Sahara was the sixth casino built on the Strip, the Las Vegas Sun reported, and cashed in as Las Vegas grew as a gambling mecca.

"It would be nothing to go to work and make 300, 500, 2,700 [dollars] in four hours. You know that's just the way it was in the old days," John Law, who worked as a dealer at the Sahara 31 years ago, told CNN affiliate KTNV.

The hotel once showcased some of the biggest stars on the Strip, including comedians Don Rickles and Johnny Carson and singers Dean Martin and Tina Turner. The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon originated from the Sahara for 20 years. And the Sahara in 1964 brought the Beatles to Las Vegas for $25,000, though it hosted their show in the Las Vegas Convention Center because the hotel's 600-seat showroom couldn't handle the crowd, according to the Sun.

But newer, bigger resorts have eclipsed the 1,720-room Sahara.

While high rollers moved on to newer properties, the Sahara featured dollar deals.

"Dollar blackjack, dollar beer, dollar craps, dollar everything," local resident Chris Lamb told KTNV in his praise of the Sahara.

In March, Sahara owners SBE Entertainment of Los Angeles and private equity firm Stockbridge Real Estate of San Francisco announced it was "no longer economically viable" to keep the facility open, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

The final guest is scheduled to check out around noon, the Review Journal reported, and 1,050 jobs will be lost.

The hotel's website said it was transferring all reservations to its partner Circus Circus.

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Filed under: Gambling • Las Vegas • Nevada • Showbiz • Travel
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. Claxton

    The thing is, you don't even have to spend a dollar gambling in Las Vegas to have a good time. My first trip there a few years ago, I was really impressed by the atomic weapons museum out there (the city isn't too far from where they did many nuclear tests way back before I born), enjoyed watching promos for new shows coming on CBS (at the MGM Grand's CBS Television City area), and had fun at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory over in Henderson (cactus and M & M's are an interesting combination).

    I didn't visit the Sahara my first time there, so I don't really hold any nostalgia for it. But Las Vegas reminds me a lot of Charlotte, another city that in the rush to grow up has discarded much of its history. What's scary is that in 50 years, much of what's known as the South Strip will undergo the same fate. The Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and Paris Las Vegas will all host their last guests, and they'll come tumbling down as newer, brighter, cleaner and bigger complexes go up in their place.

    May 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      well that's the problem – in order to keep Las Vegas going you have to gamble. That's their only reason for existence. You should be ashamed of yourself for not dropping a dime and not visiting every casino. If you never went to the Sahara why are you bothering to post on this article? It is very sad that this historic monument is gone.

      May 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      I have been to Vegas now 3 times in the past 2 years and I for the first time visited the Sahara this past March. I rode the monorail down to the end on the way to the Stratosphere and stopped in to visit the casino. I really enjoyed it because it was quiet and there were not tons of people. Actually, there were very little amounts of people. If I would have known it would be the last time the doors were open when I was there, I would have taken more time to reflect on the history of the place.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. therm

    I remember that every time I walked through the Sahara, I was amazed at all the signed photos they had on the walls. Talk about a history lesson in entertainment. I've stayed there a few times over the years and I loved it. Sure, it wasn't MGM or the Bellagio, but the place has history. Wherever I would go there, I always imagined which celebrity had sat where I was sitting at the time, in the past.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |

      I am amazed at all the comments about music, & the old Las Vegas & not one person has mentioned Elvis! I don't remember him ever playing at the Sahara....don't think it would've held him. But, he MADE Vegas the entertainement capital of the world! Y'all are right that there are casinos everywhere. I live in a small town in Oklahoma & we are over ran with them. However, there is still a part of old Vegas to enjoy that the Indian casinos can't possibly offer.....history! Go downtown. We stay at the Four Queens and soak up all the fun to be had just walking around, going from casino to casino. Like 1 person mentioned earlier....I wonder who sat at the same machine I am at when I am at the Nuggett. If foreigners are making Vegas their town, it's Americans fault.People could afford to travel more if they wouldn't worry about keeping up with the Jones'. Let's take care of our history. Without it....where would we be??????

      May 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Will

    So many good comments on here......I have only been to Vegas twice and have no interest in returning. Mostly it's because it just wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. It felt like a shopping mall with gambling, and there just wasn't any charm to it. All the charm has been sucked out of it by the huge corporations that now run the town. I guess I just idealized the town and when I finally saw it, all it could do is disappoint. It just doesn't make any sense to fly across the country to gamble when Casino's are just about everywhere these days.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler


      I have to agree. Like I said, I have been 3 times in the past 2 years. Always wanted to go and went the first time and didn't see alot of what I wanted. Went the second and even saw more outside of the city. The third time was enough. With the traffic, congestion everywhere and issues I had at the airport, I have to say, I think I am done for a while with Vegas. I wouldn't mind going back sometime, but not anytime soon.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Linari

    I would dearly love to have been around for the heyday of Las Vegas...where the women dressed to the nines, and the men in their tuxes, out for dinner and a show. It seemed to glamorous then...sure, there were shady dealings going on, but I would love to have seen the "Rat Pack" in action...

    May 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Robita

    Goodbye Sahara I'll miss you. I had some great times staying at you. Vegas will never be the same.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Martin Reno

    It's very sad to see a huge piece of history shut down like this because we're a society that relies heavily on money to function. One could easily say that it's expected because of a bad economy or bigger/better casinos but this does not ease the sadness. Venice, Italy will one day sink but to brush it off and say that it's expected because of a natural or unnatural occurrence does not make it any easier. I'm sad to say that I'll never get a chance to walk the Sahara halls and see where The Beatles played and where it all began on the strip. Perhaps the owners should have thought of rebuilding the Sahara many years ago and integrate old and modern architecture.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JIm B.

    I went to the Sahara every now and then because you go to Vegas to party and not be bothered by the tourists. The Sahara was run down but they were still friendly and away from the kids and tourists. SO long Sahara you will be missed.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jw

    I've been working in the gaming industry for 30 years. A little info on the change in Vegas...When California (as well as a number of other US states) went casino gaming Vegas could have been hit really hard. Seeing this and the fact that the U.S. dollar has been running extrememly low against foriegn currencies, the marketing machines went into action to attract tourists from overseas. To someone from the UK or elsewhere in Europe coming in with British Pounds or Euros, Vegas is a great deal. With the conversion rate Vegas to them is like it used to be for Shopping in the high end stores is cheap...the rooms are cheap,, the fancy restaurants are cheap, even a $15 minimum blackjack table is cheap. Vegas is marketing to the foriegn tourist...English is almost a foriegn language in Vegas...German, French, Italian etc....can be heard where ever you go. The glitz and garishness is what vegas is all about and what foriegners expect and are willing to pay for.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jw

      As a mater of clarification...I miss the old Vegas too.. but it moved on...damn the IPOs and accountants

      May 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mr. Tinkle Bottoms

    This is so sad. I went to the Sahara for the first time a couple years ago and I had the most fun I've ever had in Vegas there. Dollar beers, dollar blackjack, dollar shots, and dollar hotdogs. The group I was with stayed and played for 6 hours cuz it was fun and cheap. Loved that place.

    May 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brett

    For a while anyway, "Old Vegas" will live on in it's street names ... Desert Inn, Sahara, and others. A generation from now no one will remember where those names came from ...

    May 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bryan

    Sad day for me, as I LOVED dollar blackjack at the Sahara. Good place to play at the tables with friends without anyone breaking the bank.

    What's going to happen to the monorail stop at the Sahara?

    May 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David B. 2

    the old casinos are nice because you can smoke freely there - loved lighting up a stogie while gambling!

    May 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Deb Mur


    May 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. undead

    It would be nice to see it converted to low to mid income housing for staff of other casinos. From my understanding, not experience so please don't shred me, jobs at casinos don't pay that well and with tough economic times tips have reduced in size. It would lose less jobs as they would still need maintenance crews, etc. Turn the gaming rooms into retail shopping areas hire back some of the staff as sales personnel and possibilities are many.

    just call me crazy

    May 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john mc

    i remember the 1st time i wnet to vegas as a adult in 1989, i stayed in the sahara, it was stil pretty nice at that time, room was clean & cheap 39.99, staff was friendly, i went to a show there, melinda the 1st lady of magic, it was fun & entertaining, we were seated at a table with 4 other people (crammed in) & i saw a nice emtey booth behind us & i asked the guy if we could move there, & he said you need a better seat ? i said yes that would be great, he walked us all the way down front to a table right next to the stage , i said thanks & sat down, he spoke up with what about the kids ? i asked how many kids he had, 13 he says, so i gave him $13 dollars, I learned right there in the show room at the sahara that all things in vegas are done with a tip, a valuable lesson for a yong man from oklahoma, ive been back to vegas many times over the years & only stayed at sahara one other time only to find it was run down very dark & dirty but still historical, ill never froget my lesson learnded at the sahara & i will miss seeing the old joint & its place in the strip, makes me wonder what will go up in its place ? p.s on my last stay at the sahara in 2007 i wnet to the buffet & remembered it was just as bad in 1989 ! lol

    May 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
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