Today in Las Vegas another legendary casino locked the doors and will most certainly go by way of the Dunes, Desert Inn and other similar casinos of the past that couldn’t compete in the ever-changing gaming industry. The Sahara opened in 1952 and was one of the few remaining original casinos of that era still in operation.
The property had several owners including Mr. Bennett the co-founder of Circus Circus. In 1995 Mr. Bennett purchased the casino for somewhere between 150 to 193 million dollars from Del Webb Corporation. At the time Mr. Bennett cashed in his stock options at Circus Circus to renovate and revitalize the Sahara with the idea of bringing back the glorious days of yesteryear. He spent millions upon millions as he added rooms and modernized both the interior and exterior of the outdated property.
Mr. Bennett ran the property until his death in 2002 realizing he spent more than he should have on the Sahara but felt it was the right thing to do. He was a pioneer in the industry and helped to influence the Las Vegas landscape. As a Del Webb employee he went to the Mint and turned the money losing operation into a gold mine and later would lease and then purchase Circus Circus with a business partner again making money by catering to the needs of the customer.
The Sahara Casino once a vibrant establishment turned into a run down work place where employees knew they were on borrowed time with business declining on a daily basis. The company operating the Sahara failed to reinvest in the property to keep it fresh and new. Of the nearly 1700 employees most won’t find a job quickly with unemployment hovering around 13% here in the valley. We wish them well as they search for employment.
It is a sad day for Las Vegans once again especially those who have been a part of the Sahara Casino. The executives from SEB Entertainment stated there are no plans to reopen the Sahara Casino at this time. What we most likely will see is destruction to the site. Look for an auction in the near future to sell off the assets and then the property will most likely become another victim to an implosion if a buyer doesn’t surface to save this historic casino.