Vegas Strip’s oldest casino, Sahara, to close in May

LAS VEGAS SBE Entertainment Group has announced plans to close the Las Vegas Strip’s oldest operating casino, Sahara Hotel & Casino. The iconic but long-past-its-prime property will cease operations on May 16 after 59 years of operation.

“We are working with our partners to assess a variety of options for the property, including a complete renovation and repositioning,” says Sam Nazarian, CEO of SBE, which owns and operates Sahara. “While no final decisions have been made at this point, the continued operation of the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable.”

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,” Nazarian said. “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.”

SBE, which recently announced a strategic cross-marketing partnership with MGM Resorts International, is working with MGM to rebook future guests and possibly find employment for Sahara staff. “SBE is fortunate to have a strategic relationship with MGM Resorts International. As a result, we will work together to try to find jobs for Sahara employees in cases where there are open positions in MGM Resorts’ properties,” Nazarian says. “We will also work with MGM Resorts to accommodate Sahara hotel and group customers with reservations following our closure.”