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Workers Say Goodbye to the Sahara

LAS VEGAS - After sitting at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for 58 years, the famed Sahara hotel and casino shut down with little fanfare Monday.

"They didn't do anything. No announcement, no nothing," said worker Brenda Bishop. "They just put locks on the doors and had everybody escorted out to their car, which was kind of sad."

Before employees left the parking lot for the last time, crews were already erecting a fence and "No Trespassing" signs. The people who loved working at the Sahara, however, are taking their memories with them.

"One day, I'm going to write down every movie star that walked through this place," said a worker named Belinda. "We had celebrities and famous people come here to eat."

"The heart stopped beating when the Sahara closed," she added.

Lena Williams started working at the Sahara in 1968. Forty two years later, she considers the Sahara's closing her retirement.

Culinary Training Academy Helps Sahara Workers

Culinary Training Academy Helps Sahara Workers

The Culinary Training Academy (CTA) today is hosting an open house for all former Sahara workers seeking retraining and potential new job placement.

Monday's closure will affect nearly 400 members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165.  The casino’s owner, SBE Entertainment, and the unions have worked together closely to help workers financially weather the shutdown and secure new employment.

SBE agreed to provide workers with severance pay based on their years of service.  Even workers who were laid off within the last 12 months are eligible for the pay.  Workers with 20 or more years at the company will receive $5,000.  Workers with 15 to 20 years will receive $3,750.  The amounts go down from there, but even workers with less than a year of service will receive a severance check.

Record Number of International Visitors Attended CES

Record Number of  International Visitors Attended CES

A new report shows a record number of international visitors attended this year's CES at the Convention Center.

The report by Veris Consulting shows 31,677 electronic professionals from outside the United States attended this year's Consumer Electronics Show. That is up 30 percent from the year before. That is the biggest number of international attendees in the 45 years the convention has existed.

Overall, 149,529 people went to the this year's CES over its four days, making it the largest electronics trade show in the world.

CES will return to town January 10-13, 2012. 


Groups Push to Make Las Vegas Casinos Smoke-Free

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas dazzles the world with modern, elegant casinos. Step inside the contemporary buildings, however, and the casino floor is just as smoky as it was 20 years ago. That's because Nevada is one of the few remaining states to allow smoking in casinos.

Several groups meeting in Las Vegas this week are pushing to snuff out smoking in Las Vegas casinos.

"We are completely targeting the gaming industry, because of the health impacts to the workers," said Smoke-Free Gaming of America Chairperson Stephanie Steinberg. "They continue to be sick.  They continue to die from secondhand smoke exposure, and we're fighting for their right to breathe clean air."

Teresa Price is an anti-smoking advocate who worked at Caesars Palace for more than 25 years. She says she was subjected to harmful secondhand smoke as a dealer.

Arcades Remain a Draw for Some Strip Resorts

Arcades Remain a Draw for Some Strip Resorts

That roll of quarters you don't use in the slots anymore? There's still a use for it on the Strip.

After going through a brief family phase, the Strip is back to being an adult Disneyland.

MGM Boss Murren Took $4 Million Pay Cut Last Year

MGM Boss Murren Took $4 Million Pay Cut Last Year

LAS VEGAS - MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren took a nearly $4 million pay cut in 2010 as the casino operator's loss grew from the year before, according to an Associated Press analysis of a regulatory filing the company made Monday.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows Murren made $9.78 million in 2010, 29 percent less than the $13.75 million he made in 2009, his first full year as the company's chief executive. Murren's pay package included $2 million in salary, a $750,000 bonus, a $4.3 million performance-based cash bonus and $585,000 in perks. The perks were mostly related to travel, including $374,514 for personal use of a company aircraft, $208,673 for insurance premiums and benefits and $2,087 for local transportation expenses.

Nevada Casino Winnings Decrease in February

CARSON CITY, Nev.  -- Nevada casino winnings dropped almost 7 percent in February compared with the same month in 2010, and state monthly tax revenues decreased more than 11 percent compared with a year ago.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Friday that casinos in Nevada won just under $950 million during the 28-day reporting period.

Taxes on casino winnings make up about a third of Nevada's general fund revenues. The state collected just under $41.6 million based on the casino "gaming win" figure for the month.

The report says that for the first seven months of the fiscal year, statewide casino winnings are up a little less than 1 percent. Las Vegas Strip casino winnings dropped more than 9.5 percent. The Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe area were down more than 11 percent.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)