Financing Complete for Former Sahara Las Vegas Property

As anyone who has recently paid a visit to Las Vegas can certainly attest, you really can’t miss the hulking shadow of what used to be the Sahara Hotel and Casino toward what is now the northern end of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. Closed only since 2011, the currently decrepit state of the building has left some visitors wondering if the property hasn’t been abandoned for a much longer period of time.

Despite the fact that the Sahara presently looks as if it is in need of a complete teardown, in fact it is being renovated by a California-based development group and will re-open next year as the SLS Las Vegas resort casino. The company overseeing the overhaul of what was formerly the Sahara, SBE Entertainment, announced this week that it has received the final round of necessary funding, a figure of $415 million.

The Sahara Hotel and Casino enjoyed a long history in Nevada, having first opened way back in the nascent days of Las Vegas itself – 1952. At the time, its location was just outside the city limits. Suffering financially by the time of its closure, the loss of the Sahara represents the withering of particular era in Las Vegas history and leaves only three pre-1960 casinos on the Strip – the Flamingo, the Riviera, and the Tropicana.

In its later history, some of the Sahara’s main attractions included the NASCAR Grill and a similarly-themed Speed The Ride rollercoaster that began inside the building and traveled outside, only to return to its starting point going backwards in motion. The closure of the Sahara after an impressive fifty-nine years put some 1,600 hotel employees out of a job.

SBE Entertainment is spending a total of $744 million on the SLS Las Vegas, which is set to feature over 1,600 boutique hotel rooms and the usual spate of dining, retail, and entertainment attractions typical of Strip casinos. This week they broke ground on the interior portion of the work.

SBE Entertainment’s CEO, Sam Nazarian said of the undertaking, “I know these kinds of projects usually begin with an explosion. We’ve been on the property since it closed, maintaining the building and the facility. This week, we’ll start the interior push.”

Nazarian also pointed out that the new SLS Las Vegas is expected to generate over 8,500 new jobs, both directly and indirectly, by injecting $400 million into the local economy. He compared the revitalization of the old Sahara property to what online shoe retailed Zappos has done in downtown Las Vegas, where they have undertaken a massive revitalization project as construction continues on their new company headquarters, formerly the City Hall building.

“We’ve taken on the role of igniting the north end of the Strip,” Nazarian told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re close to downtown and the reimagination that ( CEO) Tony Hsieh is bringing to that area. We also want to be a place for locals to visit,” he went on to add.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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