Though all casinos in Las Vegas have stories behind them, none have the unique discinction of being completely imploded, only to rise again with the same name. Though this interesting idea was eventually deemed an abject failure, at the time of its relaunch, people were blown away by the tenacity of the idea: to keep the history and the theme, in an all new billion dollar resort. As an homage to the original casino, structures were built to resemble the original building. The center for the performing arts was painstakingly saved from demolition. The heyday never came, and the Aladdin was eventually sold to Planet Hollywood, only to be sold once again to Caesars Entertainment. Today, we will take a look back at the original Aladdin, and how it came to be. Then we will examine the constant struggles and bad luck that seemed to cast a continuous dark cloud over the resort as the years went on, until its final owner decided to simply absorb the property into Total Rewards utopia. Let's get on that magic carpet and take a brief look at the infamous Aladdin Resort and Casino.
Few properties in Las Vegas have been called "cursed" more often than the Aladdin. The humble beginnings of the property date back all the way to 1963, when it was a small roadside motel named the Tally-Ho. Only a year later, it was sold and renamed King's Crown, at a time when a gaming license was something that could be applied for while operating a casino. Unfortunately, less than 6 months after the property was purchased and re-named, the new owners failed to secure the necessary gaming license, and the modest motel and casino shut down. For nearly two years, the casino was boarded up, awaitng a new buyer. Finally, in 1966 Milton Prell, a casino investor from California that starting in the gambling business in the late 1940's.
Prell took the modest casino to a new level. He decided to invest nearly $3m into the property and retheme it with an Arabian desert theme, calling it the Aladdin. The Aladdin opened in 1966 with a signature "Bahgdad Theatre" and a large Aladdin Lamp sign, one of the first largely themed signs in the town. Also included in the burgeoning resort was a 9 hole golf course, which was fairly standard for Las Vegas "Strip" casinos at the time.
Through a close friendship that Prell had with Elvis Presley's manager, Elvis decided to marry his young bride Priscilla in a modest ceremony at the Aladdin in 1967. The press flocked to the hotel casino, and suddenly, the Aladdin was on all maps leading to Las Vegas.
The fun didn't last long, as Prell was forced out by a large investor in 1969, and was subsequently sold again in 1972. The new owners (a domestic corporation) decided to invest several additional million into the resort, and added a new grand entrance and tower. The grand re-opening in 1976 was hosted by Neil Diamond and was covered by nearly all news outlets due to the high dollar investing that the resort had undergone.
Once again, the heydays didn't last, as the funding of the resort was investigated and shady business dealings by the current owners were called into question. This caused the Nevada Gaming Control Board to raid and close down the casino and hotel in 1979. Once again, the casino was up for sale.
Purchased by Wayne Newton and a business partner in 1980, this venture was widely covered by news outlets due to the apparent force out of international talk show legend Johnn Carson, who was very interested in an investment in the resort. Newton got out of the casino ownership business less than two years later, but went on to levy a large multi-million dollar lawsuit against NBC for constant allegations that Newton had mob ties.
Little was done to the property in the early 1980s, which led the structure to deteriorate a bit, and fall into slight disrepair. A brief ownership by Japanese investor in 1987 did not last long due to gaming regulators banning ownership. Finally, in 1994 the property was purchased by an independent group that was looking for a possible investment.
Only 3 years later, the Aladdin would close, but not forever. The plan was to completely tear down and implode the original Aladdin, then invest $1b to rebuild it from the ground up, all the while keeping the original name, theme, and history. It was an ambitious plan that would come to fruition, but only to fall apart once again a few years later.
Part II of this article will cover the construction, re-theming, de-theming, and re-theming of the Aladdin turned Planet Hollywood.
To discuss or comment on this article please click: HERE