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.

Post by:
Filed under: Gambling • Las Vegas • Nevada • Showbiz • Travel
soundoff (190 Responses)

    1952-Is that not when Bugsy Siegal and the Mob owned Lost Wages?

    May 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich (in name only) in Reno

      No, Benjamin Siegel died June 20, 1947 in LA. While most of the original large casinos were managed and/or funded under mob figures such as Siegel and Meyer Lansky at this time, the arrival in the late 1960s of businessman Howard Hughes changed all that. Hughes purchased many casino-hotels, as well as television and radio stations in the city, and was soon followed by other legitimate corporations who began to purchase casino-hotels as well. The mob was run out by the federal government over the next several years.

      And the Sahara was opened in 1952 by Milton Prell, a Californian who had no mob ties.

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

    I grew up in Las Vegas in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Very little remains of the town as it was back then...Desert Inn-gone, Sands-gone, Dunes-gone, Landmark-gone...heck even the Convention Center where we had our High School Graduation-gone...Sad to hear about the Saraha. My Mom worked there for over 10 years...

    May 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • nyc

      I was working at the Dunes for Shenker back in the 80's, great time, thanks for the memories !

      May 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shane

    Nascar Cafe had terrible food and service. Glad to see it close.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jacknyd

    Every good thing must come to an end. Back in 1966 when i was there, it was new exciting and a new adventure, but it became a corporate enterprise and lost it's luster. Gambling is one thing, Giving it away is another. If you look around these days with the economy the way it is, there ALL losing money now. Casino's are empty for the most part. Just 5 years ago i could walk through FoxWoods in Conn. and was wall to wall people. Now i can walk from one end to the other and never brush or bump into anyone. Atlantic City is the same way now. People at least want a chance to win, but Casino's have removed that chance so much in there favor it is even ridiculous for professional gamblers to win.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bob

    I almost got stabbed at Sahara. Good riddance, I say!

    May 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CessnaFlyer

    It was cheap, but it was a dump. It deserved to close. It was stuck in the past. The best thing going for it was its proximity to the monorail where you could catch a ride to go somewhere else.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gary

    There are still a few survivors from the old days ...The Riviera, Flamingo and the Tropicana. That's about it, so savor these last remaining artifacts while you can! If you really want to save old Vegas, then give your business to them–not the fancy places like Mandalay Bay or the Wynn. You make your voice heard with every dollar you spend.

    Oh, and I would also include any casino built prior to the MGM as important to the old Vegas history. Once the MGM went up in 1989, it kickstarted the mega-casino trend we've seen in the last 20 years. I don't understand those that want to see Circus Circus go, but are sad about the Sahara closing. CC, built in '68 was just as much a part of the garishness and benign bizarre that was Vegas. Places like Imperial Palance or Excalibur–icons on the 90's mega-casino blitz should go; and are true testament to lasting value of these new super-casinos: going to the junk pile in 20 years...

    May 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Staceyann C. Dolenti

      Gary is right the only way to keep the classic places around is to spend your vacation there...
      Staceyann Dolenti

      May 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    Only poor people go to The Sahara & Circus Circus, the strip is NOT expense, i get rooms at Monte Carlo Luxor Mirage for $35-$60 a night depending on time...Embrace change its a beautiful thing, I went through The Saraha & Circus Circus and will NEVER step back into those dumps im suprised it took this long to close down... If you want old vegas go to Fremont Street, that place is exremely fun & you can get your cheap food & drinks, spend 3 days tehre 2 on the strip 1 on fremont!

    May 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. olitenup

    I stayed at the Sahara a few years ago. It was in desperate need of something...All the public areas were filthy and the rooms were really old.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Staceyann C. Dolenti

    no way ~ this place is a classic.
    Staceyann Dolenti

    May 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RW

    I have stayed at the Sahara many times and agree with a lot of what was stated above, but I have a different memory of the Sahara. I remember feeling more like I was in New Jersey more than I was in Las Vegas. I kind of liked the Jersey accents that I heard, but I am sure it was a turn off to many peope from other parts of the country. This was before the Sapanos, but I am sure if Tony and his crew went to vegas that they stayed at the Sahara (except for the trip that Chris went on to work on his movie deal),

    Something else that has not been stated above is that the Sahara sits at the extreme noerth end of the strip just south of the Stratusphere. If you start at the Stratusphere and draw a V the area inside the V accounts for about 75% to 80% of the violent crime in Las Vegas (North Las Vegas) and gang activity. I am sure with people being able to go online and find this out (Sheriff's website) that many have made the choice to avoid the North end of town. So the way I see it if Las Vegas/ N. Las Vegas had of cleaned this problem up the Sahara would not be closing today. The only reason that the Stat hasn't closed is becaue it is a geographical landmark that can be seen from all over the area, but it hasn't made money in years. The Downtown area has suffered from this issue as well. So Las Vegas if you want people to come to the North end and to the Downtown area run the gangs wompletely out of town, and not just to another side of town.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Maureen

    Everybody should visit A great website dedicated to historic Las Vegas

    May 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. zazelsodo

    The Riviera has done a LOT of work remodeling their rooms. I was there a couple years ago and one of the towers was completed done, and they were starting on the other one. Nice, updated rooms. Good, clean rooms with high def TV's. They started revamping their gaming area, new look, newer, fresher. Updating their pool area as well. I think the Riviera will do alright.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Agreed: the Riviera does it right–keeping things modern and updated, yet still classy and not too over the top. It's a shame the Sahara couldn't do the same.

      May 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michelle

    Sad to say it, but, I thought it was already closed!

    May 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Allen

    I stayed there in early April knowing it'd be the last time. Adios, Sahara. Your classic Vegas just couldn't survive with all of the over-the-top new-Vegas Strip hotels.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10