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Aladdin Casino Las Vegas - Aladdin Casino Las Vegas: Vegas Jinx and Magic Money Maker

million hotel gaming resort

From an English Style Resort Motel to the Aladdin Casino Las Vegas in Four Turbulent Years

When inventor Edwin Lowe opened the four hundred and fifty room English Tallyho Motel in 1962 the smart money in Las Vegas was betting against him. Lowe decided he could defy the odds and make a motel without a casino a success along the soon-to-be famous Las Vegas Strip. Lowe sunk twelve million of his own money into the Tudor style resort that had a nine-hole golf course, and four swimming pools. The big betters in Las Vegas cash in on their wagers when the resort closed in 1963.

The resort opened again in 1964 under the name King’s Crown Tallyho. The owners applied for a gaming license, but it was denied. Within six short months the motel was out of business. In 1966 Milton Prell decided to revive the property. He invested sixteen million to buy it and another three million to renovate it. A five hundred seat Las Vegas Theater called the Bagdad Theater changed the English imagery into an “Arabian Nights” theme, and the name Aladdin was proudly displayed on the new fifteen story Aladdin Lamp sign on the strip. The Aladdin resort opened with a black tie affair on April 1, 1966.

The Turbulence Continued Through the 1980s

Prell wooed gamblers to the casino by offering three different shows two times a night with no cover and no minimum charges. Things started to look up when Elvis and Priscilla got married there in May of 1967. One hundred of their best friends and a casino filled with reporters witnessed a little rock n’ roll history.

Prell had big plans for the now famous Aladdin casino so he sold a 24% interest in the hotel to Mae George a wealthy Detroit widow. Her business advisor and brother-in-law, James Tamer, was the Aladdin’s entertainment director. Tamer had a close relationship with Detroit and St Louis mobsters. The Nevada gaming commission discovered that Tamer and his associate Charles Goldfarb swindled the hotel out of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars while running the hotel and casino. A two year investigation followed and in 1969 the Aladdin was sold to the Parvin Dohrmann Corporation, but in 1972 the Aladdin was sold again to Sam Diamond a veteran Las Vegas casino executive and some of his investors for only five million dollars. Diamond, and his cronies, which include Richard Daly, Sorkis Webbe, and Peter Webbe, gave the Aladdin a sixty million dollar facelift. The nine hole golf course was replaced with a nineteen story tower and a 7,500 seat Performing Arts Center which came in four million dollars over budget.

Neil Diamond was the main attraction for the 1976 grand re-opening of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino. The hotel was attracting new as well as seasoned gamblers, but the 1979 conviction of Tamer and Goldfarb gave the gaming commission the ability to close the hotel, but it opened three hours later thanks to US District Court Judge Harry Claiborne. That victory was short lived when Sorkis Webbe was indicted for participating in a million dollar kick back scheme during Aladdin’s expansion project.

Wayne Newton and his partner Ed Torres bought the Aladdin property in 1980 for eighty-five million dollars, but the constant internal battles between the partners resulted in Torres buying out Newton in 1982. In 1983 Torres tried to sell the Aladdin back to Newton, but the singer wanted no part of it. The Aladdin went into Chapter 11 protection in 1984 when the Teamsters Pension fund forced the foreclosure. Mob skimming and infiltration closed the Aladdin from January 1986 to April 1987.

Ginji Yasuda bought the Aladdin in 1987 for $54 million and he applied for a gaming license. He got the license and spent twenty million dollars to remodel the resort and casino. Yasuda’s success was short-lived. He was investigated for borrowing money from Japanese organized crime interest and he lost his gaming license. Once again the Aladdin filed for bankruptcy protection.

The 1990s weren’t much better for the Aladdin or its owners; it was bought and sold at least twice before it was imploded on April 27, 1997. The new owners, Aladdin Gaming LLC, opened the new $1.4 billion Aladdin Casino Las Vegas extravaganza on August 17, 2000. The Desert Passage Mall attached to the casino and hotel attracted thousands of shoppers when it opened a little later that same day. The Aladdin Casino Las Vegas may be a Vegas jinx and a magic money maker, but without a doubt it is a turbulence survivor.

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