First things first: 7 of the 19 Las Vegas casinos featured in the A-Z gallery are no longer operational. If you're ever curious about their history, allow us to tell you something about each of them (and three more for good measure):
Aladdin Hotel & Casino
Originally an English-themed hotel that failed to obtain a gaming license, Aladdin was re-opened with an Arabian Nights theme on March 31, 1966. It became host to several events, including the wedding of Elvis and Priscilla Presley on May 1, 1967. It was re-branded and re-opened as Planet Hollywood on April 17, 2007.
Simply known as The Horseshoe, the hotel and casino was opened in 1951, named after its founder, Benny Binion. While other competitor casinos highlighted performing acts, Binion's Horseshoe placed emphasis on gambling. While still open, the The Horseshoe brand is now owned by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, and renamed as Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel.
The Dunes hotel-casino opened on May 23, 1955 first as a low-rise resort. An additional North Tower was installed in 1961, and a South Tower in 1979, making it one of the biggest and most lavish hotels on the Las Vegas strip at the time. The hotel-casino also hosted performances by many top celebrities during the time, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Pat Cooper, and Jayne Mansfield. After years of financial problems and trading, the Dunes inevitably closed on January 26, 1993. The Bellagio now occupies the spot where Dunes once stood.
The Hacienda hotel-casino operated from 1956 to 1996, featuring a distinct Horse and Rider neon sign. It's owner, Doc Bayley, also founded Hacienda Airlines a year later, and offered travel packages that included transportation to the hotel-casino, a room, and some casino chips. By the late 90's, the Hacienda was dwarfed by the larger resorts constructed around the area, especially the Luxor. It was closed on December 1, 1996 and demolished via implosion later in the month.
Klondike Hotel and Casino
Klondike was first a Motel 6 in 1962, and was later bought by John Woodrum and his son in 1972. When the new owners reopened Klondike, it had 153 hotel rooms and a 720 square meter casino. The hotel-casino was perhaps best known for its strategic location between the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" signage and the McCarran International Airport. Drivers who would pass by the red, Old Western Klondike meant that they have arrived in Las Vegas. Klondike closed its casino on June 28, 2006, and its hotel two days later.
Lady Luck Hotel & Casino
Little is known about the early days of Lady Luck when it opened in 1965. It has been closed since 2006, its interiors mostly demolished to prepare for planned renovations. CIM Group, who now owns the property, are expected to complete the renovations by end of December 2011, and might open it in 2012.
Sahara Hotel and Casino
Sahara, one of the best-known Las Vegas hotel-casinos, operated for almost 60 years--from 1959 to 2011. It boasted of 1,720 guest rooms and suites, and a spacious 7,900 square meter casino. It was the last vintage hotel-casino where the "Rat Pack" performed. The Moroccan themed hotel-casino's best known landmark is the onion-dome minaret adorning the porte-cochere entrance. Sahara is perhaps best known as the setting of the original 1960 Oceans Eleven film. Declared as not "economically viable, it closed its doors on May 16, 2011.
Stardust Resort and Casino
Another legendary Las Vegas hotel-casino, Stardust Resort & Casino, replaced the Royal Nevada hotel and opened in July 1958. However, majority of the modern casino complex was constructed in 1991. The Stardust sign, which adorned the facade and roadside, was one of the most popular landmarks and symbols of Las Vegas. Stardust was also the first in Las Vegas to have a drive-in theater at the resort's rear. The iconic resort-casino closed its doors on November 1, 2006.
Vegas World, also called Bob Stupak's Vegas World, opened on Las Vegas Boulevard in 1979. It replaced a smalltime gambling corner which burned down in 1974. For Vegas World to gain attention, Stupak created weird rules for traditional games, which became unique to his casino. Eventually, Vegas World became known as one of the most odd and quirky casinos in the city. It closed down in February 1995 to be replaced by Stupak's dream project, the Stratosphere.
Westward Ho Hotel and Casino
Westward Ho Hotel and Casino was a motel-style hotel-casino situated on the Strip, the largest known in the world. It opened in 1963 and closed its doors on November 2005. In its 42-year career, Westward Ho also became popular for its food and drink offerings, such as 99¢ Hot Dog & Beer, 99¢ 27oz Margarita, and "The Megadog" (3/4 lb footlong hotdog) priced at $1.49.
Has anyone been to these defunct Las Vegas casinos before they shut down? Tell us your story with a comment below!
Sources and additional readings:
Defunct casinos in Las Vegas -- Wikipedia
Aladdin Hotel & Casino -- Wikipedia
Binion's Horseshoe -- Wikipedia
Dunes -- Wikipedia)
Hacienda (resort) -- Wikipedia)
Klondike Hotel & Casino -- Wikipedia
Lady Luck Hotel & Casino -- Wikipedia
Sahara Hotel & Casino -- Wikipedia
Stardust Resort and Casino -- Wikipedia
Vegas World -- Wikipedia
Westward Ho Hotel and Casino -- Wikipedia