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Sahara hotel-casino, a Las Vegas icon, to close in May

 
The Sahara hotel-casino, a Rat Pack-era jewel of the Las Vegas Strip that age and a prolonged recession had tarnished, will close in May, owner SBE Entertainment announced Friday. Chief Executive Sam Nazarian, the Los Angeles nightclub impresario who purchased the Moroccan-themed casino in 2007 and vowed to restore its hipness, said in a statement that running the property was "no longer economically viable." While the statement said Nazarian's company was mulling options for the 59-year-old resort, "including a complete renovation and repositioning," it gave no details or timeframe for such plans. In southern Nevada, casinos are often bought, sold, remodeled or imploded to make way for a new resort - but very rarely shuttered. The announcement is a psychological blow to Las Vegas, which has been battered by years of economic misery. While some gauges of tourism, including the number of visitors, have ticked up in recent months, many analysts expect a lumbering recovery. Gaming revenue in January dipped 2.5 percent on the Strip compared to the same month last year, according to figures released this week, despite several marquee conventions that swelled visitor volume by nearly 9 percent.

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