Owners of the Sahara Hotel & Casino have announced that after almost 60 years of operating on the Las Vegas Strip, the Moroccan-themed resort will shut down in May.
Opened Oct. 7, 1952, the Sahara is the longest running Las Vegas Strip resort. However, given Sin City's harsh economic climate, SBE Entertainment Group's chief executive, Sam Nazarian, who operates the resort, believes that "the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable."
In honor of the casino's closing, here are five facts on "The Jewel in the Desert," compliments of Surge Desk:
1. It hosted the first blackjack tournament
In 1978, gamblers put down a $250 entry fee on top of a $500 buy-in to participate in the first-ever blackjack tournament, an event that cemented Sahara as a go to "21" destination.
2. And its share of top acts
The resort boasted the largest capacity of any dinner theater in town when its doors opened in 1952, so it's no surprise that Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, George Carlin, Liza Minnelli, Bill Cosby, Joey Bishop, and Don Rickles are just a few of the many performers who entertained guests over the years.
3. Some of those acts pushed the envelope
Prior to his New Year's Eve performance, comedian and notorious loose cannon Buddy Hackett was told to clean up his act for Sahara owner Del Webb and his wife, who planned to be in the audience. That night, Hackett walked on stage wearing nothing but a carefully placed silver dollar, but he did manage to keep the language PG.
4. It hosted the original "Ocean's Eleven"
The casino was chosen as a shooting location -- and heist target -- in the 1960 hit staring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
5. Of course it has a roller coaster
The casino introduced "Speed," a NASCAR-themed roller coaster that launches from inside the hotel's NASCAR cafe and is considered one of the tallest shuttle coasters in the world.
Go ahead, take the ride:
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