There are countless themes of casinos up and down the strip, from Ancient Rome and Egypt to the Wild West. There’s only one place, however, where you find inspiration derived from the sprawling expanses of Africa and that’s at the legendary Sahara Casino.
With decades of history and some famous names behind it, today we’re looking at one of the most unique casinos in Vegas.
The Africa of Vegas
The great African continent admittedly isn’t the first place you think of when it comes to casinos, although it does hold significance as likely the first place in the world where gambling takes place. From betting on Senet boards from thousands of years ago in Egypt to all of the bonuses and offers linked to the popular modern digital aviator game in Zambia and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, it’s intrinsically linked to betting.
The aspects that the Sahara leans into more are from Morocco, Algeria, and the northern coast with regions made famous in the classic film Casablanca. While the film didn’t do much to show off the local culture, being more focused on the European element, it did instill the Morocco region in American minds as having a somewhat stylish and exotic feel.
The Early Days
Some ten years after Casablanca was released, the Sahara was born from a previous basic casino on the same site which had been expanded and transformed into the 6th-ever resort on the Strip. It’s also one of the few surviving resorts from that era alongside the famous Flamingo of Bugsy Segel.
From the outside, there was only a vague African feel with a few statues and props, although inside there were places like the Casbar Bar, which still exists today, that featured North African murals and Moroccan-inspired decor. Early features included the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in Vegas as well as other African-themed rooms like The Congo Room for dancing and The Caravan as a coffee shop, although these latter two have disappeared over the years.
The Modern Sahara
It has gone through several forms over its 70-year history, only returning to the original Sahara in 2019 after a number of years of operating as the SLS. With this rebranding, many of the Moroccan influences were lifted back into prominence and those original influences are still present with newer installations like The Tangier and even this year with the new AZILO Ultra Pool which is surrounded by Moroccan design features.
Aside from these, the resort has also expanded to feature several spa facilities and is famous for the selection of live entertainment on offer year-round. The resort previously played host to the likes of The Beatles, Tina Turner, and several Rat Pack members such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and the entertainment quality is a tradition upheld still today.
We’d encourage anyone who finds themselves at the northern end of the Vegas Strip to stop in a take a look around. The current owners are in the middle of restoring the resort’s glory days and there’s always something new to check out!