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Sahara hotel-casino set to shut down

The venerable Sahara hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip is closing after six decades.

The Sahara is remembered as one of the Rat Pack's favorite haunts and where an emphasis of lounge acts set standards for other joints that followed.

The Sahara was expected to close Monday after 59 years, with owners SBE Entertainment deciding earlier this year it was no longer economically viable to keep the casino open.

Unlike other casino closings in Sin City that make way for newer projects, it's not clear what the future of the site will be.

Casino officials gave away the last of the Sahara's progressive jackpot cash Friday, awarding 63 winners about $500 each. The free drawings started a weekend of visitors streaming through the Moroccan-themed casino, snapping photos and nabbing $1 chips as keepsakes.

The Sahara, which opened in 1952, was featured in 1960's "Ocean's Eleven" as one of five casinos robbed by a group of World War II veterans. It wound up touting the around-the-clock $1 blackjack and a six-pound burrito-eating challenge at its NASCAR Cafe.