The Las Vegas Casinos That Never Were

Nevada's gambling laws continue to attract some of the best casinos concentrated along Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada's gambling laws continue to attract some of the best casinos concentrated along Las Vegas Strip.

The state of Nevada does not have many natural resources to rely on for development, therefore, relies on tourism and business. Do to so, the state legalized gambling, lowered taxes, legalized prostitution in some areas, and eased marriage and divorce laws. This history created a gambling culture in Las Vegas that continues to attract some of the best casinos concentrated along Las Vegas Strip. Throughout history, there have been ambitious casino projects that never materialized due to several reasons. Below are ten such examples of casino projects that never saw the light of day.

10. Tiantic

The titanic hotel and casino was to be a 400-foot-high casino replica of the RMS Titanic Ship with 1,200 rooms on a 10-acre land in downtown Las Vegas. This casino was to have a hotel, theater, amusement park, zoo, iceberg themes, and a nightclub named “The Ice Breaker.” Bob Stupak had budgeted $1.2 billion for the project in 1999, but the Las Vegas planning commissioners rejected the project site. They agreed to relocate the casino to a secondary site, however this did not happen as residents of the area petitioned the Las Vegas City Council to reject the plan, which they honored. This ambitious project ended up just like its namesake—sunk.

9. World Trade Center

In 1996, Leonard Shoen purchased Chaparral Hotel & Casino and started renovating it into the World Trade Center Hotel and Casino, inspired by the Twin Towers of WTC New York way before 9/11. World Trade Center had a budget of $25 million and was to have 225 rooms. The plans were at an advanced level as the owners readied the gaming facilities, bought gaming chips, and applied for a license. The hotel part became operational, restaurants served food, and they were just days away from opening the gaming section. However, due to Shoen’s partners’ previous felony records, authorities denied them the license, and thereafter Shoen withdrew the application. Authorities demolished the property and turned the grounds into a parking lot.

8. World Wrestling Federation

In 1998, World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), purchased the 193 room Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino at an auction and planned for a wrestling-themed hotel and casino at a cost of $10 million. The casino sat on a six-acre piece of land and had a 500-seat showroom, museum, and a nightclub. WWF abandoned the project and sold off the property at a profit of $2 million citing conflict of interest with its sports entertainment brand.

7. Sunrise

If developer Michael Mona Jr. had his way, then 4575 Boulder Highway in Las Vegas would be having the only casino without a theme. Plans were well underway and all gaming facilities purchased. The Casino that was to assume the name “Sunrise” never opened because the Gaming Control Board accused Mona of previously associating with persons tied to organized crime figures and therefore denied him the unrestricted gaming license. Today, the building houses Arizona Charlie's Boulder.

6. Starship Orion

In 1996, Orion Casino Corporation, a subsidiary of International Thoroughbred Breeders (ITB) purchased the 1,000 room, 22-acre El Rancho site for $43.5 million. They later demolished it with plans to construct a $1 billion casino, hotel, and entertainment complex. There were to be seven casinos in the complex and 2,400 hotel rooms. According to the agreement, if ITB were to fail in getting financing for the project, the previous owners would take over the facility. As fate would have it, ITB failed and a disagreement between them and the former El Rancho owners ensued. Though they eventually agreed, nothing had happened by 1999 and another buyer had opted to purchase the property.

5. Original Planet Hollywood Resort

The original Planet Hollywood Resort, different from the current one, was to open its doors towards the end of the 1990s as one of the biggest hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas. After going public in 1996, Planet Hollywood filed for bankruptcy in 1999 and closed over 50 of its global branches. This financial crisis affected the planned Planet Hollywood Resort and construction postponed indefinitely.

4. London, Las Vegas

Inspired by the city of London, England, the London Las Vegas Casino complex was to sit on a 38.5-acre property and have a casino, restaurants, shops, and 1,300 hotel rooms among other features on the Las Vegas strip in Paradise. One of the unique features of the casino, Skyvue wheel, is the only part of the project that came to completion and still stands. Every aspect of this casino got inspiration from landmarks in Britain. The opening of the Skyvue wheel, phase one of the entire project, faced several postponements and, as fate would have it, the entire project too. Reports are conflicting about why the casino complex never saw the light of day but reliable sources point at financing problems. Recently, owners of the land advertised it for resell.

3. DeVille Casino

In 1969, Frank Caroll built the DeVille Casino at 900 Convention Center Drive near his other property, Landmark Hotel and Casino. All plans fell into place as they finalized recruitment, made gaming chips, and put everything in readiness for gaming. However, the casino never opened even for a single day. In 1992, the same building underwent complete renovations and reopened under the name Sport of Kings only to close nine months later. From this point, the Beach Nightclub rented the space up to 2007 when authorities earmarked the facility for demolition.

2. Countryland USA

Just like Starship Orion, CountryLand USA also has its history intertwined with El Rancho. CountryLand USA was a country-music-themed casino resort that was to be where El Rancho was, in fact, the signage "Coming Soon - Future Home of CountryLand USA" stood at El Rancho’s entrance for several years. According to the plan, the casino complex was to include a cowboy boot-shaped 20 story structure. This plan did not impress and, in its place, the owners suggested the Starship Orion mentioned above but, after disagreements between them and the financiers, the Starship Orion project reversed in favor of CountryLand USA. Even after the revision, the project never made it to completion.

1. Asia Resort and Casino

The concept of Asia Resort and Casino involved an Asian-themed casino and resort complex. This project idea, presented to Sheldon Anderson who, after considerations refused to approve the project. The site, adjacent to the Sands Expo and Convention Center and the Venetian Hotel and Casino was set aside for the development of Palazzo Casino and Resort. Critics of the Asia Resort and Casino concept described it as ugly and that it could not fit within the locale.


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