Historic hotel-casino had fallen on hard times

The Sahara Hotel & Casino, a 59-year-old fixture on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip, will be closing its doors in May.

After earning a reputation as down-market, budget-friendly resort, the hotel-casino was bought by Sam Nazarian’s SBE Entertainment Group and Stockbridge Real Estate Funds in 2007, who planned to revitalize its image. The subsequent worldwide financial crisis hit Las Vegas particularly hard, however, and plans for redevelopment were postponed.

“We are working with our partners to assess a variety of options for the property,” Nazarian said in a statement. “While no final decisions have been made, the continued operation of the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable.”

The casino was a well-known Rat Pack haunt in its early years, serving as filming location for 1960′s “Ocean’s Eleven,” and Sahara Blvd. has long been a major artery for commuter traffic. The casino’s reputation suffered in recent decades as massive development on the southern end of the Strip siphoned away much of its cachet, and it became better known for its fire-sale deals on hotel rooms than as a destination resort.

It is unclear whether there’s outside interest in buying the casino or the land it occupies. Nearby resorts the Stardust, the Westward Ho and Slots-o-Fun have all shuttered over the past half-decade, and some of the projects that were meant to replace them — such as the Echelon Resort and Fountainbleu Las Vegas — were abandoned prior to groundbreaking or even halted mid-construction.

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