“Las Vegas Hotel Nears Completion”, 8 June 1952. A short blurb about the soon-to-open Sahara Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which was financed with Portland mob money. You may have heard about this before, since it’s one of our handful of cool mobster stories. I mention it now because it’s coming up on one year since the Sahara went out of business. There’s supposedly a plan in the works to reopen it under a new name some time in 2014.
But if that falls through, I wonder if the McMenamin Bros. have any interest in the casino business? We’re having our 15 minutes of global pop culture fame right now, so maybe it’s time for a Portland-themed Vegas casino. They’ve already got casinos themed after New York, Paris, New Orleans, Hollywood, Venice, Monaco, the Italian town of Bellagio, medieval England, ancient Rome, and ancient Egypt. You could argue that a Portland-themed one would only be somewhat more ridiculous than all of those are, and it would probably divert a lot of tourists who’d otherwise come here to the real thing and clog up the line for donuts and ask random people on the streetcar for directions to Powells and otherwise make nuisances of themselves. So as silly as it sounds, I can see a lot of real advantages to it existing.
And just imagine: Yard-high plastic KOIN Center novelty cups full of frozen strawberry daiquiri. (Locally sourced strawberries, obviously.) A replica Portlandia statue that’s twice as tall as the original & covered in 24k gold, sporting DD cups, and shooting fire at the top of every hour to the music of selected local indie bands. An upscale shopping arcade that amazingly looks just like the *real* Bridgeport Village. Wild Vegas pool parties with a unique Northwest theme at the High Rocks Experience. A Cirque du Soleil show based on the music of Quarterflash and Nu Shooz, with comical leaping salmon and maybe some acrobatic aerial cheesemakers. The possibilities are endless, sort of.