Vegas Strip’s oldest casino, Sahara, closes today

LAS VEGAS Once a favorite hangout of the Rat Pack and Elvis Presley, the Las Vegas Strip’s oldest operating casino, Sahara Hotel & Casino, today joins those icons in the pages of history.

Owner SBE Entertainment Group will shut the iconic but long-past-its-prime property this evening after 59 years of operation. As has become tradition with the closing of once-beloved Las Vegas casino resorts, Sahara saw its busiest weekend in decades on the eve of its closing.

The Moroccan-themed Sahara’s fate has perhaps as much to do with its location as anything else.

The 1,720-key property sits at the northern edge of the Strip, surrounded mostly by vacant lots and stalled development projects, including Fontainebleau Las Vegas, Echelon and The Plaza. “We see the northern end of the Strip as the future of Las Vegas,” SBE CEO Sam Nazarian said upon announcing the closure back in March. “With Las Vegas showing early signs of recovery, we are confident that we ultimately will find a creative and comprehensive new solution for this historic property.”

More than 1,000 employees will lose their jobs.